Many aspirants ask me one question – How to prepare for IAS/IES/GATE or any other exam while being in a job. I feel that this question is really tough to answer. Preparing for a competitive examination in India is not a joke. The level of competition that one has to face is enormous and without proper preparation, one can’t even dream of clearing the examination.
Most of the working aspirants are worried by one thought – “While I am travelling in this bus/train and wasting my time in going to and fro to/from my office, there are thousands other aspirants who are busy in their studies. How can I compete with them? While I will be working in my office, the full time preparing aspirants will be studying.” This thought is enough to give us shivers down the spines.
In this post, I will tell you the cure to this pervasive problem. By using the tools and tips mentioned in this post, you will find yourself at par with full time preparing aspirants.
So, let’s begin the ‘Transformation’!
Problems ‘On the Move’
Carrying heavy books and notes –
It becomes such a real mess to carry tons of books with you wherever you go. This can be a big headache sometimes.
Small chunk of (available) time –
While you are working somewhere, you usually get very small chunks of time in which you can have a look at your notes/ course material. It is tough to maintain continuity and carry on with focus and concentration.
(Un)faithful human memory –
We tend to forget soon. Real soon. If we look at this Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve, we will find that after 6 days of reading anything, the amount of material retained by our memory is negligible.
Physical and mental exhaustion –
After returning from a day long hard work, it becomes almost impossible to carry on the preparation with energy and enthusiasm. Preparation for competitive examinations is a mentally taxing job in itself. A day full of exhaustion makes it just hellish.
Fortunately, you can jump out of this well and emerge a real winner. In order to fight the adversities, we have to go a step forward and be unconventional. The simple one-word solution to all these problems is Technology. Yes, technology provides you such an unlimited power with which nothing seems unachievable. If you know the right tools, you feel the potential that you hold. Forget about studying ‘at-par’ with the full time preparing aspirants, you can Over perform over anyone lacking these tools and techniques.
The tools that I am going to reveal here are searched by me during a period of 2 years when I was striving for constantly improved performance.
Once you ‘transform’ your strategy, you can always be hooked with your exam preparation irrespective of the situations prevailing.
So, Let the fun begin!
Well, you need something that you can carry with you everywhere. We need something portable, customizable according to our needs and comfortable to use. Well, any notebook or tablet may do the job, but you should go according to your own preferences.
Now that you have the hardware, time to jump on the softwares, the tricky part. Don’t worry, you don’t have to invest a single penny here since you have already invested in the right hardware.
This comes as a part of the MS Office bundle. It is a super awesome notes taking and notes management software. Its layout is of a notebook, divided into sections, subsections, pages and subpages. You can highlight the information, tag it, classify it. It has handwriting recognizing engine. The best part is the easy search and management that it offers. If your notes include snapshots of information too, then it is capable of searching within the snapshots too! There are many more amazing features offered by this software.
For more details, visit http://office.microsoft.com/en-in/onenote/
This is not a software per se, but it can be called a ‘life-hack’. We buy a bulky book, carry it everywhere. Neither we can add notes to it, nor we can do an ‘instant search’. A highlighted item can’t be changed. In a paper book, we can’t change the font size, the line spacing, the margin, the background color according to our convenience.But, we can do all of this using flipkart ebooks. These are instant to download, that means, no waiting for delivery. Also, you can read the books on your mobile or tablet or laptop, absolutely no issues. On top of it, ebooks come at much lesser price than the paper books. So, buy the ebooks and download them on your Transformer book or tablet or laptop and read them whenever you want!
Search for any book, buy and start reading. I am giving the links to some of the ebooks.
Online Versions of Newspapers –
If you are very fond of reading the paper version of newspaper, then try the online versions. Once you get used to it, you will not return back to the paper versions. The benefits of online version are
- You can make notes. You can save the required news only, summarize it and edit it according to your needs.
- You can highlight it, search it and manage it.
- You can carry your daily notes wherever you go.
- It helps in making smart-notes (explained ahead).
- It is mostly free 😛
Now that you have the reading material and the device to read it, time to move on the smarter things. While reading any material online, sometimes we feel bored or lost. We tend to lose concentration. We keep returning to the same sentence again and again because of the lack of focus. We lose the paragraph or the word sometimes. Our speed of reading becomes super slow because of the (garbage) voices in our head. Here is the solution to this problem.
Just copy and paste the paragraphs you want to read in spreeder and get set zoom! The display of chunk of words at a time at a constant speed makes us more focused and alert. Since the pace is not controlled by us, we are forced to concentrate on it. Moreover, it will increase your reading speed too.
Go on and give it a try now at – http://www.spreeder.com/
Whenever we read an online article, the biggest problem that we face is the distraction offered by the advertisements. Apart from that, many websites have a very poor design for reading it online. We can’t change its font or background etc. With Pocket, all these problems will vanish within few minutes. You can save any article in pocket and then read it on your Asus Transformer Book or your tab or your mobile in an incredibly awesome looking form. You will definitely love it. You can also download the Pocket app on your android smartphone and then enjoy the seamless connectivity and availability of your saved articles wherever you go. For more details, visit- https://getpocket.com/
It is very much same as that of Pocket but the difference that it offers is its ability to export your saved articles to your kindle device. For more details, visit- https://www.instapaper.com/
Only reading any material will not help. You have to make the notes too. I don’t know whether you are aware or not, but our brain is a non-linear organ. That means, we learn in a non-linear fashion. Rather, we learn in a branched tree manner. Our brain only remembers associations. The more associations you make, the better that information will be stored in your brain. Moreover, we learn graphic details better than plain letters. So, try to make mind maps rather than plain simple notes. Freemind is a very good open source free software for this purpose. You can add pictures, icons etc. For more details visit – http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Download
It is also used for making mind maps, but it is 1000 times more awesome than Freemind. The reasons being, it offers you the power of making Dynamic mind maps. With this software in your hands, the possibilities are infinite. But, as good things don’t come for free, so is this software. Fortunately, for (almost) all practical purposes related to your preparation, you can use this software as the developers are kind enough to keep many essential features available in the free version. The best thing about this software is that, it simulates how our brain stores information. I can guarantee you, this very moment (revelation of this software) may change your learning style, if you can use it properly. Why to wait now, visit their website now- http://www.thebrain.com/
It may sound Japanese by its name and I swear I don’t know whether it is developed by Japanese or Americans, but one thing I can tell you that this software is another pure piece of gold being distributed in free. Actually it is a flash card software. But it is NOT ‘yet another flash card software’. It is the BEST out of all of them. The best thing about this software is its revision algorithm. The algorithm is based on the ‘forgetting curve’ and many other psychological studies done for decades. It gives the best possible schedule of revision for maximum retention. Like other ones, it also provides you a seamless availability across your tablet, laptop, mobile or your Transformer book. Visit its website here – http://ankisrs.net/
That’s all I could think of right now to make you prepare for any competitive examination in a much innovative, interesting and unconventional manner. Once you start preparing using these techniques, you will never look back since you will never need to.
So, What are you waiting for? Transform your preparation style, Transform your exam results, Transform your life. Be unconventional.Thanks for reading. If you have any queries about these piece of software, you can ask me in comment box. If you have to say anything else, you can do that too in the comments.