Skim Please! And We’re Not Talking about Milk…

Before every lecture, it’s good to know what you’re getting
into. That is why skimming the relevant chapters before class can be very
helpful to become acquainted with the material even before the professor
discusses it. After the lecture, go back and read the material more closely
with the aim of trying to understand, as opposed to simply reading through

A 24-Hour Review Makes Information Stick Like Glue!

Did you know that reviewing new material within the first 24
hours of learning it helps you increase your retention of that knowledge by

So while it may be tempting to close your notebook after class and let it
collect dust, you’ll be doing your brain a world of good by reviewing your
notes pronto.

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You’ll Be Ready for Showtime in No Time!

So you have a big exam in theater history. To get ready, you need to do a little rehearsal, but not the kind involving blocking or lighting. In order to best retain everything from Balzac to Beckett, you will need to do what is known as elaborative rehearsal. Such a strategy involves thinking about the meaning of what you study.

One of the best ways to do this is to write down the ideas in your own words. This is because when you generate information, you remember it far better than simply by recognizing it.  Try it—and when the curtain raises on exam day, your test performance will be drama-free!

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No-Nonsense Note Taking

In the age of lecture slides and SparkNotes, many college student wonder why they should bother taking notes at all. Despite professors’ handouts and study guide websites, good old-fashioned note taking is still the best recipe for academic success.

Let’s take a look at a few of the myths surrounding note taking:

  1. Myth: “Once I get my lecture slides from my professor, I don’t need to take notes.” Truth: Getting your lecture slides from your professor is like checking a book out of the library. In either case, the knowledge has not been transferred to you. In order for you to really acquire the information, you need to actively involve yourself an absorbing it. Note taking is one of the best ways to do that.
  2. Myth: “In order to take notes well, I would have to write down every single thing the professor says, and that’s impossible. So why bother?” Truth: Yes, writing everything down is impossible. And while trying to write down every single word sounds like active learning, it’s actually passive learning. Part of your job as a student is to discern which information is important and which is not. You don’t want to be a robot who simply copies words, but a thinker who can proactively sift out pertinent information.
  3. Myth: “Once I take notes, I don’t have to look at them until right before the exam.” Truth: The best way to commit something to memory is to look at it repeatedly. Sure, you could try reading your notes repeatedly right before the exam, but you’ll do a better job remembering the material if you look it over throughout the semester.

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Take Note of Your Note Taking

How many times have you struggled to stay awake in the lecture hall and told yourself that it’s okay because you can just learn the material by reading the Power Point slides?

Let’s face it: sometimes we just don’t feel like learning. However, note taking is important, because it forces you to listen and cues you into what the professor finds important in the text (in other words, what will likely be on the exam).

Here are some tips to help you take better notes:

  • Briefer is better. Never use full sentences (unless you are quoting). Be consistent in your use of abbreviations and symbols. DO NOT take notes in shorthand, because they cannot be studied in shorthand.
  • The majority of notes should be in your own words. This will help you remember the material better. Exceptions to this are formulas, definitions, and specific facts.
  • Don’t write down every single thing you hear. Focus on the main points. Concentrate on the “heart” of the subject and forget the extras.
  • Keep notes in order by date and in one place.
  • Review your notes regularly. We recommend reading through them each week, even if you don’t have an exam coming up.

Want more tips on Note-taking? Take an Effective Note Taking workshop at The Study! Click the link below to register:

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