Here's how to make the most out of your notes and hack your studying.
- Do take notes, more reasons why later.
- Keep your notes organized and legible. If you've never learned, I recommend the Cornell system. Examples and strategies also given here and here. If you're typing notes, check this out.
- Write on only one side of the paper, which allows you to change the page order later on.
- Review your notes within 24 hours, sooner rather than later. I like to take a quick review immediately, as well as another read-through before bed.
- As the course progresses, go back and review earlier notes - what now seems important, what's trivial? Make markings to denote.
- Study from both lecture notes and readings for the big exams.
Besides the supposedly obvious, why else take notes?
Memory works on multiple levels. Auditory, visual, tactile, gustatory, olfactory, etc. Taking notes, the physical act of writing and sometimes typing, increases your experience with the material, which helps you to remember it better.
Also, caffeine. No, seriously. Caffeine has been found to increase memorization - feel free to peruse these - related abilities. Just don't drink so much you start twitching and have a seizure.
Also, Bach. As in Johann Sebastian. Personally, I'm a 'Classical' music freak - I listen to everything from the past five hundred years or so quite happily (except Handel... and Purcell. Forget those guys. [I'll have you know a very different word was originally italicized.]) and Bach is, of course, a favorite. Besides foisting my passions on you and before you run screaming, you might want to read this. My only concern is, does the music have to be playing during the examination for the recall to work?
|Johann Sebastian Bach - The Consummate Bad Ass.|
Regardless, I recommend the following: Take notes. Afterward review your notes silently, ask questions about them, etc. Later on in the day, or another day entirely, review your notes out loud. Why? Speaking about them, as well as hearing your own voice talk about them, will help you to better recall and comprehend the information. I recommend taking this step before moving into group discussions of information, which can further increase your retention, comprehension, etc.
Now, about those readings. When you're taking notes on that stuff, don't just dive in. First, ask yourself why you're reading it - how does it relate to the coursework?
Next, skim, especially if it's just a chapter or two. If it's a book, read any introductions as well as the first chapter, then read the last chapter and any end material. Then skim the chapters, taking note of headings, key words or main ideas that pop-up - this should be a quick process, avoid skimming through every paragraph of the chapter or section - if it helps, keep to the first and last paragraph of each chapter/section, then gradually move in. Look for what the main points are, the key concepts and vocabulary. Write them down somewhere, try to explore those ideas, write questions and try to answer them.
Ever heard of speed reading? Do you know how to train yourself to do it? Well, for just $14.95 you can -- just kidding. This isn't a course or a complete guide, but here's how to hack speed reading: it's all about your peripheral vision. Try moving your eyes from about the third word of a sentence to the third from the end - see how your eyes can still make out the surrounding words? The 'trick' is practice and, with time, your speed will increase without leaving your retention and comprehension in the dust.
There's always more to say, but my time is up and this should give you a good basis to work from. Your thoughts?