The Simple Secret to Passing Important Exams

The Simple Secret to Passing Important Exams

A growing number of people are engaged in lifelong education. Chances are, you're one of them! This makes exam prep very important, whether it's career-related or strictly academic.

Here's one simple secret to passing your tests: learn how to take notes and study effectively from them.

Preparing to Take Notes

1. Understand the purpose of your studies. Feeling motivated is crucial to paying attention and taking comprehensive notes. Remind yourself of your goals to excel in school or advance in your career.

2. Listen actively. Sit where you can hear and see the instructor with minimal distractions. Take advantage of pauses in the presentation to mentally review the content. Ask questions to improve your understanding.

3. Get the right supplies for you. Most people benefit from keeping separate notebooks or binder sections for each subject. Keep backup pens handy. Use different coloured pens and highlighters to help organize the material.

Taking Notes During Classes and Presentations

1. Listen for the main points. Notes usually seek to summarize the most important information rather than transcribing every word. Keep up with assigned readings or brief yourself on the presenter's background to know what themes to expect.

2. Write down key information. Jot down anything that gets written on the blackboard. Be sure to record statements that are repeated and emphasized. Ask for printouts of PowerPoint slides.

3. Try the Cornell method. A professor at Cornell University invented this popular method: Divide your page into two columns with key concepts on the left and supporting facts and ideas on the right. Check out the internet for more detailed information about this method.

4. Develop a consistent system of abbreviations. Uniform abbreviations enable you to write and review your notes faster. Use standard substitutions like “C” for a century, or invent your own.

5. Call attention to important items. Make critical information stand out with colour highlighting, underscoring or asterisks. Indenting can also emphasize important points and help format your notes.

6. Leave plenty of blank space. Write on one side of the page only and leave lots of white space. You may need to go back and add more information or rewrite something you misunderstood the first time.

Taking Notes From Written Materials

1. Scan the text first. Quickly read over the material before trying to take notes. Pay particular attention to section headings, first and last paragraphs, and the first lines of paragraphs.

2. Use highlighting. If you can write in the book, use coloured highlighters in one or more colours. Otherwise, you can avoid making permanent marks with removable highlighter tape.

3. Pick out keywords and phrases. Be selective about the content that you highlight. Focus on the essential words rather than whole sentences.

4. Use margin notes. Some people find it helpful to make notes in the margins. Add comments of your own or insert additional facts. Bracket important passages rather than highlighting every line.

Using Your Notes to Study

1. Review your notes as soon as possible. Go over your notes as soon as you can after class. Add details and identify gaps while your memory is fresh.

2. Test yourself. Use your notes to rehearse for exams. With the Cornell method, you can cover up the right column and see how much detail you know by heart. Regardless of the note-taking system you use, lecture notes and the highlighted text will help condense the material you need to study.

3. Archive material for future reference. If you expect to use your notes in the future, develop a system to access the information. It can be chronological, alphabetical by subject, or any other method that works for you.

Good notes are vital for effective exam preparation. Take the time to develop organized notes, and you'll excel at that upcoming important exam!

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