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Making sure your notes are exam ready

By Sarah Separovich on 27 August 2020NSWblogUKblogStudy tips

Final exams are coming up soon, so it’s time to get into gear and start preparing. But before we start revising, it’s really important that our notes are in tip top condition 👌. You’ve been adding to them for nearly a year, so all we need to do now is make sure they’re exam ready!

Here’s a quick checklist for ensuring your notes are ready for revision.

1. Make sure you’ve ticked off the syllabus dot points

This has to be the most important tip on our list… make sure you have every dot point listed in the syllabus covered in your notes. To be in a good position for exams, we really do need a complete set of syllabus notes! This is because the questions you’ll be asked are coming straight from this document.

So, go through the syllabus for each subject and make sure you’ve covered each individual dot point in your notes. If there’s any gaps, go back and fill them in.

The more you can think about the content in terms of the syllabus dot points, the better position you’ll be in throughout your exams. This clear and logical structure also makes your memorising similarly clear and logical!

2. Work on condensing your notes

When it comes to studying for exams, we don’t want to be reading paragraph after paragraph of content. The most useful notes are summaries of the content, so we need to work on condensing our notes!

Once you’ve written the notes for a topic, you’re going to need to just keep going back to them and writing summaries and then super summaries. The more times you go over them, the more you will be able to pick out the most crucial bits of information and arrange all the content into a really punchy, memorable and useful summary that will actually get you through an exam.

When you’re making these summaries, always keep the exam in mind and ask yourself ‘What will I be using this information for?’ ‘How would I answer a question on this topic?’ or ‘How would I use this information to answer a question?’. This way, you’ll end up with a really good grasp on each topic.

3. Make sure your notes make sense to you

Writing notes doesn’t mean rewriting the textbook. To make your notes useful, it’s important that you can actually understand them! So, read over your notes from start to finish and highlight any concepts that don’t make sense to you. Rework these sections, so when it comes to revising you actually know what’s going on.

4. Revisit past exams or assessments

With this in mind, it also pays to revisit any past exams or assessments and look for any topics that you didn’t do so well in. This can help us to highlight any areas in our notes that are lacking or need further explanation. From here, you can add additional notes or comments that will really help you in the exam room.

There’s no point in shying away from the difficult stuff… you won’t be able to hide from it in the exam! So take the initiative to get on top of it now. If a particular point is really stumping you, reach out to your teacher and get it sorted!

5. Include exam tips

With this in mind, it’s also a great idea to include any exam tips you’ve picked up along the way. One of the most challenging parts of final exams is that they cover all of the content you’ve studied over the year, which is a lot! Any tips or tricks for remembering content or application rules will go a long way.

If you have any tricks to help memorise a lengthy quote, add them to your notes. If you always forget to give your graphs a title, add a reminder to your notes. Got a mnemonic device (a small acronym or jingle) for remembering the syllabus dot points? You guessed it, add it to your notes!

Remember, it’s not just about remembering the content, we want to be able to apply it too, so make sure your notes are going to help you with that process!

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