With the second semester approaching and the beginning of the new year, students are scrambling to bring up or maintain their current GPA. When it comes to studying, good study notes are probably the best thing to help you during the school year. It’s taken me many years to find an effective method of creating study notes (in Word) that work for me and are easy to follow. I’ll also brush up on highlighting tips for when the studying begins.
Look at multiple sources
When you are taking notes from your textbook, powerpoint or in class always search for more information especially on information you feel you may need further elaboration. For instance you may be reading about the First World War and the textbook may refer to a lot of different people, if you feel the textbook isn’t providing enough information then look the person, definition, place, etc. up. However, I suggest you make a separate text box for this information so you know its separate from the readings. I will use Pinterest for mnemonics, I’ve found great ones for nursing.
Tables are your friend
Honestly, it was just about a year ago that I started to use tables in my studying. But tables are really only effective when comparing topics. Before I started to use tables I would make each topic a heading and have point form notes underneath. This would get hard to follow and I would have pages among pages, where looking at each at a glance was difficult. The benefit of tables is that I can look at each topic and its main points and other important notes.
As you can see I was comparing different health charts, and have categorized them by year, place and important points. I can look at all of the other documents side by side in chronological order to compare. Much easier than if the layout was linear with headings.
Categorize headings by lectures and powerpoint topics
Your prof may not go into great details about certain topics, however will sometimes mention that all information in the required readings are important. This is true, however, pay attention to the main topics covered in lectures and cover those more in detail when taking notes from the textbook. Here you can see I have put the heading of the lecture number and the topic, as well as the sub-topics. I included notes from the textbook, the powerpoint as well as any additional comments my professor mentioned in class.
Take advantage of your heading style options!
This can tag along with my last picture example and you can see from the word document. This can be done both online or in your written notes. It’s easy to do both. Just make sure that you use different font, colours or even underline or circle different headers and sub-headers in your written notes (maybe even make yourself a legend to begin with so you don’t get confused, eventually the differences will come naturally). It’s easy in Microsoft Word as there are options to bold, underline, italics, and even change font size to emphasize headers, sub-headers, definitions, etc.
I can’t stress this enough, especially with complex concepts that can be explained in a picture. If your textbook or powerpoint slides don’t provide one, then google it. For example, when learning about osmotic movement of fluids, I can put that into my google search engine, click Images and look at everything that comes up.
Make a definition table
I’ve found that when definitions are scattered throughout my notes I find it harder to memorize and remember which ones are important. That is why when there are a lot of definitions I will make a definition chart usually at the start of my notes that I can read ad refer back to. You will find this super helpful. Your textbook will either have a glossary at the end of the chapter, textbook, or throughout the chapter where you can jot them down or type them up.
How to Highlight & Quick tips for studying:
- Don’t overdo it. This goes for your textbook and your notes. If you end up highlighting almost everything you won’t be able to pick up what’s truly the key points.
- Instead highlight:
- key words
- dates, people, places
- important points
- Use different colours. Utilize your green, your yellow, pink and blue highlighters.
Use sticky notes! I love sticky notes, all all shapes, sizes and colours. Use tabs to mark pages (write the topic, or mark a page you need to review).
- Use thin tabs in different colours while studying to mark what you know (pink), what you kind of know (green), and what you definitely don’t know (blue). Then later when you go back you know to focus on the blue tabs and review the green.