Are you a college or graduate student finding it hard to know the best way to take notes and prepare for exams? Hopefully these tips I’ve learned through trial and error can lend you some help!
After 17 years of school…wow, let me just pause there for a moment say man it’s been a journey!
But seriously, after 17 years of being in school, taking notes, studying (and stressing about) exams, I’ve learned a few things. And now coming upon my last two semesters of graduate school before finishing up my sports nutrition masters…I feel like I should share the wealth 🙂
I’ve learned some by watching others, but most from learning the hard way and seeing what DIDNT (and did!) work for me.
I know I typically share recipes on here, but I’ve also shared a few posts on tips I’ve come to learn in specific areas in life like this video I did on how to have a stress free morning, and this post on how to be successful in 2016, and thought this may be very useful for some. Please let me know if you like posts like this every once in awhile through comments below!
But for now, I want to leave you with the greatest advice I’ve come to learn on succeeding in school through sharing tips on note taking with my Bamboo Spark and preparing for exams! If you don’t know what a bamboo spark is, head over to this first post on it here!
8 Tips on Note Taking and Studying to Succeed!
- Take notes in class through some sort of physical writing
- I know this may not be a popular tip which technology obsession nowadays, but I’ve seen it with both my friends and myself…writing with a pen and paper somehow helps me retain the information much more than just typing. And there’s no distractions (ahem, facebook and pinterest…)!
- I use the Wacom Bamboo Spark, which is AMAZING (see my first initial post on it here!). Because you write with a pen and paper, but then can transfer your note electronically, and store them on your computer! Which brings me to my next tip.
- Review your notes the same day you take them
- Studies have shown (and I’ve seen it in my own life), that when I review my notes the night of taking them, they are more likely to stick in your mind when you come back to studying in a couple weeks. That way, you aren’t just memorizing and cramming for the exams, and then just forgetting!
- Sometimes your scribble scrabble during class makes you shorten words and use acronyms, so by reviewing your notes the same day, you’ll know what you meant through those letters and scribble…versus a week later, you’ll have no idea what you meant!
- I again love using my Wacom Bamboo Spark for this, because after transferring them electronically, I can sit at my desk and reread the notes easily on my laptop OR reread the hand written notes straight from it!
- Make your study time PRODUCTIVE
- 1 REALLY productive hour, is so much better than 3 hours of off and on, with constant internet browsing breaks (I’m guilty). Set aside a certain amount of time that isn’t TOO long, and don’t let yourself do anything else within that time
- Get Rid of Distractions by Treadmill Studying
- Going along with the last one, get rid of any type of distractions during your study time.
- My top way of doing this?? Study my study guides as I walk on the treadmill. That way, I can’t get on FB or instagram, and I’m also getting some extra steps in my day!
- Another way is to set a lock on your computer from certain websites, I know a lot of apps and programs have that option now.
- Another reason I love my Wacom bamboo spark, because I can either study my hand written notes on the treadmill, or the electronically saved version from another device (so I don’t get my notes all sweaaaty)!
- Power in Numbers
- Group studying, when consisting of people that are serious too, can be very beneficial.
- Sometimes I study with a big group to get main concepts down and talk through them, other times, I talk through the study guide with just my roommate. This has been SO beneficial, as she catches things in lecture that I miss, and I catch things that she misses. So as we study, we get a deeper understanding of each particular topic!
- Don’t wait until the last minute
- This is something you definitely aren’t hearing for the first time, but it truly is key. When you wait until the last minute, you get stressed, anxious, and nothing seems to stick in your mind. Avoid this by beginning your studying days in advance (and already being more prepared by following step 1!)
- Do a Brief Review the day of, but don’t over do it
- Use notecards, a “cheat sheet” of acronyms or formulas you want to remember, or virtual notecards like you can make on Quizlet to review that day of and give yourself a little refresher before taking the exam… but don’t over do it! If you cram right up until the exam, you’ll already be burnt out before beginning, which will only lead to not being focused when it counts!
- Last extra little tip: Don’t overthink!
- I have come to realize that when taking an exam, you CANT overthink question…or else you will second guess your original answer, which usually happens to be the correct one!
- I have come to make a rule with myself after many disappointing test results: DONT change your answer unless you are POSITIVE it is the right one, or you realized you read the question wrong the first time around. I can’t tell you the amount of times I changed an answer because of overthinking the question the second time through, only to realize my first answer was right.
Hope you enjoyed these snippets of knowledge from Sarah Grace after much note taking and exam preparation experience 🙂
Do YOU have any tips you’ve found that work great for you? Share them below!