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How To Remember Things You Study For Long Duration – Some Tips

(Following article is sent by Pal Ajay Singh. The opinions/suggestions expressed below are solely his’ and not that of Insights’)

By Pal Ajay Singh

Have you ever been in a situation where you have info about the answer but a bit confused as to which is the correct one or you may wonder I studied it a fortnight ago how can I afford to forget it so early. Some days back I read a comment in the insight website that a person had a doubt that(I don’t remember it properly it’s a rough description of what it was) “I have finished all the NCERT and most of my cultural part along with  Bipin Chandra and M .Laxmikant it took me six months to finish all this but the problem I am facing is that I fail to recollect things ” , Well that is a very common thing to happen with so much of new information getting percolated every day  one would probably forget most of the things studied at a later stage of time and then either get demoralized or start again from square one. Even I faced the same problem and I was tensed (dare not think about the Tele brand advertising) anyway I visited many websites and failed to receive any concrete measures to address this paramount problem, so I thought of taking the job in my hands and envisage a strategy which would keep in touch with whatever I studied at frequent interval of times (don’t think I have invented something, it is revising things, but in more interactive way and with good results)

Before we start

Question:  why do people fail to recollect things?

Well if you are  expecting a technical answer with terminologies like brain mapping, synape  etc then I would possibly disappoint you, do you ever forget what is 2 plus 2 or who is the prime minister of India ? I believe the answer should be a big “no” the reason for these achievements is that they are well stored in an organized manner in our memory and you keep them hearing or reading all the time, hence we can conclude the more organized you studies are more efficient you will be

So there are three parameters to be considered

  1. How organized your studies are

  2. How frequently do you revise

  3. How  much do you scribble (writing practice)

The first two parameter forms the input part of the preparation whereas the third parameter forms the output and as you all know more is the input more will be the efficiency of your preparation, on these lines I will start with the theme of article.

How should one plan to study?

I adopted the idea after understanding how preliminary readings work (i.e. in three reading pattern).even we are going to follow the same pattern

Reading one

Casual and basic reading forms the essence of this reading i.e. one should just read to attain following goals

  1. Read and understand what the topic is all about.

  2. Underline all the important sentences.

  3. encircle important and unknown words and find their meaning ,write down these meaning with a pencil in the same page of textbook so that you can refer them if you need them in future

  4. underline things (plan ,projects, policy, terms, historical events, people ,clauses, places, institute….[]…) try to write them in a separate book or page (recommended).

  5. Ex: you are studying about solar system and there is a sentence “ planet earth has one natural satellite” then naturally there would be a question in your mind which planet has the largest number of natural satellite so you can write this question on your page and at the end of day you can search them and keep the page in the book itself

  6. Remember there is no need to do any in-depth research on topics a casual approach but well-connected one is required in this part of reading.

So in this part you have read a chapter you have tried to answer all the questions which could arise and jotted the word meaning. Remember you should make this reading in the shortest possible time

Second Reading

If you are done with first reading then you can go for this level but before we start let me clear two things

  1. Point no 4) in first reading can be shifted to reading two part if you wish to

  2. You should always maintain a time elapse of 7 to 8 days b/w first and second reading.(this is due to the fact that if you read something in day one and you read it again in day two you are not much enthusiastic and you cannot remember it for long time so do follow the time gap )

  • In this part one has to study everything in detail (remember I am not suggesting you to change your style of studying or remembering things )

  • Try to invest more time  in this reading at least twice or thrice the amount of time you spend on first reading

  • You have already written word meaning and explanation to question which aroused in your mind, this will help you to sail easily in your second reading

  • Try to be more analytical in approach in this part, frame questions from prelims and  mains point of view try to answer them mentally (you can write the question above the topic this question will be used in third reading

  • Try to focus most (how to have good focus is discussed below) as this is no casual reading you have to make sure that you completely understand things.

  • Try to establish and clear all you doubts in this stage itself remember piling up of doubts can be very dangerous.

If you are done with this part then I believe you are done with the topic and it is time to move for the third reading

                                        Third reading

Time gap should be maintained anything b/w 25 to 30 days.

  • In this part you are supposed to revise whatever you studied in the quickest possible way and then start answering questions which you framed during your second reading (remember you wrote these questions above the topics)

  • You can also search for questions asked in UPSC mains from the topic you covered. In this manner you not only cover up question papers but also the questions which aroused in your mind

  • If you have a friend ,share this strategy with him/her when (s)he frames  questions they will be mostly different from your question (though you guys may be studying same topic and framing question on same sub parts but both of you have different way of thinking and hence you can have additional questions and more viewpoint on same topic)

  • Seek help from your friends to get them reviewed.

  • Now you have been in contact of a topic for more than 40 days which will help you to remember things for long run

  • Maintain a book where you write your answers .divide the book into different sections viz polity,  history, current affairs etc etc

  • Revise from this book at an interval of every two months.

  • So every time you are revising from your notebook you are revising your own imaginative thoughts and this is bound to help you for a exams where your syllabus roughly increases by a newspaper every morning.

Remember this is no quick fix ,this technique is not for people with low patience, it is an highly organized task you will be investing a lot so think before you start.

                                                      Some more tips to increase efficiency

  • Use technology at its best as you are supposed to have three readings time management is crucial use google calendar to sync your mobile to receive message about your further readings or simply maintain a diary or add a reminder to you cell phone.

  • concentrate and focus on what you are doing (it’s a common habit of day dreaming while studying fighting with criminals, doing social service and all those dreams must be stopped at the nascent stage itself) if you are facing this problem in acute manner then here is what I do

  • I used to keep a countdown of 30 mins(8 to 10 slots making it 5 to 6 hours every day) ,now in this 30 mins I concentrated and focused the most without thinking about anything else I followed it for 10 days to make sure I have sufficient level of concentration though at the initial days I used to get distracted within 15 mins

  • from 11th day onwards I started to increase the time by one minute per day (i.e. on 60th day I could concentrate for around 120 mins in a row with very less distraction) though I reduced my slots to 5 or 6 at max (120 mins each)

  • The above process has proved result (well I was the guinea pig ) anyways don’t go above 120 mins coz it gets too hectic moreover take a break of 15 to 20 mins after every slot this will make sure you are in good mood to start again.

  • Reward yourself with good amount of recreation and self analysis slots, you should know your performance at every stage of preparation so that you can manage if you are lagging.

  • People belonging to working class can also take some tips from this technique.

  • When I am depressed or frustrated or lack energy, I close my eyes take a deep breath and say this in my mind “Working against the will is termed as hard work”,if my will is to sleep I go against it and work towards my goal.

  • I have found wonderful results with improved and organized structure of studies hope the article fares to your purpose.

   I would love to hear what you feel about my article and receive any feedback/queries/improvement suggestions please contact me at

From Insights:

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