Study notes almost need a different name, don’t they?
They don’t exactly make one leap to your feet with excitement or enthusiasm.
The functional name of ‘study notes’ is weighed down with associations of reading a text book and writing out scrawls of black and white text and spending hours at a desk with only the ticking of the clock punctuating the silence…
But study notes need not be the bore you might think!
Your study notes can be (and in fact should be!) so much more than just mindless copying of notes from a text book or your school books.
Study notes should be more like an interactive art piece than an old-English transcript.
In short, your study notes should put a variety of different study techniques to use — bullet points, diagrams, flow charts, mnemonics, print-outs, paragraph explanations, key facts — anything goes. (More on this in this article.)
The result will be a book of notes with all of the information you need for your exams, presented in a way that aids your understanding of your subjects AND your memory retention.
With all of this in mind, here are 3 THINGS you should be thinking about when you’re crafting your study notes to ensure that they’re effective for you.
1. Are you utilizing the study techniques associated with your Learning Style?
I’ve already mentioned a few different study techniques you might like to include in your study notes above. And what I was hinting at, was making sure you’re utilizing study techniques associated with your Learning Style.
If you’ve taken our Learning Styles Quiz you’ll already have a good idea of what your predominant Learning Style is (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, reader/writer).
If you haven’t yet explored what your Learning Style is (or styles! — you might have more than one!) you’ll find out that this is a REALLY IMPORTANT part of figuring out how to study in a way that works for you.
Different Learning Styles are associated with different learning techniques, meaning a study technique that works for your friend who’s a visual learner might not be so effective for you if you’re a kinaesthetic learner! Get the idea?
You should be making sure that you’re putting to use the study techniques most likely help YOU study effectively.
So if you haven’t already, find out what your Learning Style is by taking our Quiz, and have a read about the study techniques associated with that style. This will ensure that you’re utilizing study techniques in your study notes that work for YOU!
Just remember, you might still benefit from the study techniques associated with other Learning Styles too! It’s all flexible…
2. Are you being mindful of what’s working for you?
When you look back over your study notes, do they make sense? Do you think — yes I get that concept now! Or do you think — what on Earth was I trying to say there….?!
When you’re preparing for exams, it’s important that you use your precious study time wisely.
When you spend even just a couple of hours going over something without making any progress, this is not only a waste of your time, but also super demoralizing!
Don’t waste your precious study time writing out study notes if you don’t think you’re actually learning anything, or if you think nothing is actually going in.
Of course we all have some not-so-good study days, but it’s really important that you’re not just mindlessly going through the motions when you’re making your study notes.
The purpose of study notes is to help you better understand your subjects, to help you prepare for your exam answers, and to help you remember what you’re going to need to know in your exams.
If you think the way you’ve been crafting your study notes isn’t helping you achieve at least one of these aims, then you need to think about what’s not working for you.
Perhaps you need to try incorporating some different study techniques into your study notes.
For instance, perhaps you’re at least partly a visual learner, but your study notes have been lacking diagrams. Well, it’s probably a good idea if you start drawing your own diagrams in your study notes. This is a great idea for those of you who are at least partly visual learners. It will help you better understand the relevant topic, and, if you’ve used your study notes effectively, you’ll be able to picture the diagram when you’re in the exam!
The bottom line is, there are no rules when it comes to making your study notes, other than making sure they’re working for YOU.
3. Are you focusing on the things that matter?
Because creating your study notes should be one of the MAIN ACTIVITIES of your exam preparation, it’s absolutely critical that when you’re making study notes, you’re focusing on the KEY TOPICS of your curriculum.
In other words, you want to make sure that your study notes cover all of the major topics that are most likely to come up in your exam.
Of course you can never be certain of the exact questions you’re going to get asked in your exams, BUT — you can usually make a very good educated guess about what topics you’re going to be examined on.
An exam might contain a few questions that catch you off guard, but overall it shouldn’t contain too many surprises.
The main topics that have been the focus of your school year should be the same topics that the exam focuses on, and therefore, these should be the main focus of your study notes too.
As we talk about in this video, high school students who ‘play the game’ of sitting exams well know what topics they need to understand backwards, and they don’t waste time on the peripheral topics that might not even come up in the exam.
Why all of this is so important
All of this — thinking about the different types of study techniques you can utilize, being mindful of what is working for you — all comes back to one of our key mantras here at The Study Gurus —
And that is that you should be studying in a way that works for YOU. Not anyone else. Just you.
We all study in our own unique way. This is called our Study Formula.
Your mission at high school, is to figure out what your Study Formula is.
Once you know what your Study Formula is, every time you sit down to study, you will know what steps you need to follow to get the grades you’re capable of. You’ll know what study techniques and methods work for you, meaning you can study with the CONFIDENCE that you’re doing the right things to get prepared for your exams.
And this means, that you’ll know how to create study notes that help YOU study and prepare for exams effectively.
If there are any study techniques that you love to use when making your study notes, we’d love for you to share them in the comments below!