How to write and review your exam notes

Therefore, you have an exam coming up, and the front cover of the exam says something along the lines of special items: drawing instruments, templates, notes on two unfolded sheets of A4 paper, and up to three calculators approved for use in the examinations.

That means you do not need to remember anything, right?

Relying too heavily on notes sheets in an exam could be a sign that you have not prepared, and it is not good if you have to juggle the front and back of those, two sheets in the exam itself.

When writing notes you should write down key concepts, organize your notes and actively listen. Try to write quickly to keep up with the teacher so you do not miss key points. If you find symbols help you remember and translate your notes, that is fine and a lot quicker too.

The key is to design a note taking system that helps YOU to:

  • Review subject content
  • Repeat – write out key concepts and repeat them
  • Connect – connect your notes to improve how you recall information

Generally, study notes are notes made progressively throughout a topic, term or even year. They tend to be long, in-depth and cover all of the information learned. The key indication that a set of notes are study notes is that they cover everything – key points and concepts, class work, extra information and general learning. They also usually go into the same amount of detail on every topic. This is why they tend to get so long.

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On the other hand, exam notes are all about prioritizing information and working to a time schedule. These notes are usually focused on key ideas, using brief points, mind maps and shorthand to quickly express topics. Usually exam notes are much shorter and will only focus on one or two topics of study, typically the ones about to be tested on. Exam notes are usually concise, to the point and cut out any information that isn’t absolutely essential.

In the end, what you include is entirely up to you. You can even put some motivational quotes/smiley faces on to keep going during the exam. However, the most efficient way is to use the process of writing notes as a study technique, rather than spending time you could be using to study to copy everything out perfectly – remember, if you are relying on your notes too much, you will probably take longer to do the question.