How to Read Books for CSE

Civil services examination, for this case any competitive examination is a treasure box for the publisher’s world. Many publishing companies come up with hundreds of books published every year stating the most relevant material for the upcoming examination or an updated and revised edition. In the same subject the same publisher publishes several books with different attractive cover page making it visually attractive for students. In real the content in the same as it is in all other books, the only difference is on how it is aligned; presented and formatted is the difference. Average book shop dedicated for competitive examination contains close to 3000 different books related to competitive examination among which the books for civil services examination is some were around 600 books. 

If we take each book having an average number of pages as 250, then the total number of pages will be around 162500. Every student receives advice from their teachers, colleagues, online groups and other mentors who claim to have cleared the examination or really cleared the examination that each of the books is important. Adding to this number include the list of NCERT book list along with NIOS and INOU study material.  The volume of content to be read becomes humongous and it literally becomes humanly impossible to study such huge content. I haven’t included the newspapers and dozens of monthly magazines on Civil Services examination and millions of pages created in the online blogs, websites and material available in the PDF format. We should also consider the list of tutorial videos available in the YouTube and other similar websites. This kind of huge amount of content and material literally poses a challenge to the students in their preparation. In this post, I  shall give some tips to overcome this information avalanche.

Many of the Civil services aspirants, probably most of the aspirants develop what is psychologically called as bibliomania syndrome. Bibliomania is the unusual behavior characterized by the collecting of books, study materials, online content, magazines, newspaper and other hoax of information which have neither use to the collector nor any essential value to a genuine aspirant. A Bibliomaniac purchases multiple copies of books from the same subject assuming he will draw any benefit from the book or for pride. The accumulation of books beyond possible capacity of use for exam preparation is a problem with aspirants to be understood and handled properly in order to avoid inefficient preparation, wastage of time and confusion caused by enormous dump of learning material.
The reader of this blog post should read unbiased and perceive that the below advise is for the readers benefit in managing time, and efficiently handle the information overload created by ‘n’ number of people around the student trying to take the time and money of the students.
Having many books in your shelf doesn’t mean you are master in that subject and having less books doesn’t mean you are falling short in your preparation. It is not necessary to have all the books in the market except very few popular ones that is of vital use.

Classifying Books
Take a list of books available in the market. Identify the most popular books recommended for this examination. Among that identify one book as a text book (core book) and the remaining as guide book (ancillary books)  for that subject. Then start reading the text book as if considering that book is the bible for that subject. Read it word by word, phrase by phrase focused with the goal of mastering the content. Never read the chosen book for the purpose of examination, instead read the book as if you are a subject matter expert in that field with natural interest.

Mastering Text Books:  Apply the following methods to study (Master) the text books.

Critical reading: Think as if you are a critique and read the content with the intention of criticizing the topic. View the content with at most skepticism and decide not to take the given text at face value, but involve a deeper examination of the claims put forth with the supporting points and possible counter arguments.  The information gets assimilated in the brain easily when we start criticizing or engage in critical reading instead of trying to by-heart it.
As a tutor: read the topic as if you are going to simplify the topic and teach content to a school kids. In this way you will master te subject in surprisingly sort period of time. A popular quote by Albert Einstein states ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough‘. Frequently ask yourself, can I explain this to someone not in class?

As Subject Matter Expert (SME): A student cannot master any subject as far as he thinks himself as a student and he is preparing for an exam. To master a subject a learner should think from an expert point of you. A candidate should learn how to think well within the subject domain. When you study geography, think geographically as a geographer, while learning polity, think legally like a lawyer. As far as you read a book like a student, your performance will lack far behind the expectation. The moment you realign you’re thinking to be professional in that domain, you can experience exponential improvement in mastering the subject.

Read like a bible: We often come across a term asserting ‘The ________ book is the bible of ______ subject‘. The reason for referring a book as a bible of a particular subject is that the specific book should be read like a bible. A bible is read with at most attention giving focus on each and every word, the arrangement of words, the logic of sentence formation and organization of chapters. Literally reading bible is like analyzing a diamond using microscope with all the craving for information and detail from it. If you see a Christian pastor giving a sermon from the bible, the pastor will pick only one phrase and speak on it for an hour or two or even longer. They see all the paradigms and dimensions of that phrase.  Similarly, when you read a text book, read it like a bible. Specifically when you read the constitution, it must be read with a view of understanding all the paradigms and dimensions of each article.

Story Board your learning: Pictorial learning is several times powerful than verbal learning. There are hundreds of studies that proved pictorial/visual learning is much powerful than verbal learning. When you read a topic or finish reading a topic, try to imagine couple of pictures in your mind related to the topic and correlate the pictures to form a meaning for the content you read. This will dramatically improve your retention ability.

Creating Anagram: If you have a list of things to remember, try to pick the first letters of those items and try to form a meaningful word. If you cannot form a meaningful word, input the first letters in the website and you will get a meaningful word which will be easy to remember the entire content.

Additionally you can see some techniques and essential study material list classified as core material and ancillary material for each subject in my video link

Hope the above mentioned techniques will be of help in your preparation. I will be covering more on this topic in my future blog post. Stay tuned.

All the best
Kind Regards
Purush & Team

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