Academic Resources

Note Taking, Test Preparation & Time Management

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Note Taking

Come to Class Prepared – Students who come to class prepared usually take better notes. That means completing assigned reading before class and reviewing your notes from the last lecture.

Compare Your Notes – Compare your notes with other students to ensure you did not forget something.

Minimize Distractions – Sit in spots with less distractions if possible. Active listening is important.

Visual Clues – not just handouts but facial expressions, hand & body signals that might suggest it is important.

Organize Your Notes – Notes organized by date, class, and subject make it easier to locate specific lecture details. A good format to consider when taking your notes is the Cornell System for taking notes. In this system you divide your paper into two columns. Draw a vertical line 2 ½ inches from the left side of your paper. This is the recall column of your notes. All your lecture notes will taken in the right of this margin. Later, keywords or phrases can be written in the recall (left) column. Take notes in the note taking column. Capture ideas and concepts. Skip space so you can see you are moving to another idea. Another option to consider is the outline method: main topic, sub-headings, and supporting facts.

Use Abbreviations and Symbols – Teachers cover lots of information in lecture. This makes it hard to write everything down. Use common abbreviations and symbols.

What Should Useful Notes have – Key concepts & main points; examples; definitions & new vocabulary; references provided; questions on what you don’t understand; and any other thoughts you have.

Write Clearly – It is important to use good penmanship when taking your notes so you can read them when you review later.

Review Your Notes – You will retain information best if you review your notes shortly after class and then again before the next class. Write down questions you have. Chunk similar information into categories you can remember. Transcribe key concepts into words you can understand. Write a brief summary of your notes. 


Test Preparation

Be Prepared – Spend as many hours as needed to understand the materials. Plan your study time in blocks. Do not cram. Think like a teacher. Practice. Study every day if possible. Make your own study aids.

Stay Healthy – Focus on your health and get regular sleep.

Arrive Early – Relaxing will help with test taking.

Listen – Instructions are important as sometimes the teacher might change things.

Memory Dump – Write down what you think are important things while you remember them to avoid forgetting them during the test. That means write them down before you move into all the questions.

Read Test Directions – Pay attention to all directions.

Plan Your Time – Estimate how much time you will need for each section. Answer first things you know for sure.

Look for Cues – Usually if two answers are similar, they are not correct. Look for curs from other questions. Often if the grammar in the answer does not match the question, it is wrong.

Answer All Questions – Even if you do not completely answer your teacher might give partial credit.

Be Positive – A positive attitude is important.

Rely on First Impressions – Often your first impression is the right answer.

Review – Finish your test early and then go back and review for mistakes. Focus on grammar, spelling and difficult questions.

Analyze – Review how you feel after the test and decide what you might do different for the next test.


Time Management

Time Management Skills That Employers Will Want to See From You  – Prioritizing, Delegation, Decision-Making, Goal Setting, Multitasking, Problem Solving, Strategic Thinking, Scheduling, Managing Appointments, Record Keeping, Meeting Deadlines, Self-Awareness, Stress Management, Teamwork, Documentation, Evaluation, Etc.

Understanding Prioritizing Your Time – Urgent, Important But Can Wait, Not Important

Use the Priority Matrix – Do first, do next, do later, don’t do

Delegate Tasks – Try to delegate tasks that others can do

To Do List – Maintain a schedule of things to do and review often (but give yourself breaks); block your time 

Be Organized – Maintain a clean and organized study area

Study Time – Know your best time to study

Stress – Deal with stress how you know best

SMART Goals – Specific, measurable, achievable & realistic

Focus – Try to not multitask while studying; aligning your focus helps with results; consider focused efforts for 20-minutes at a time

Accountable – Hold yourself accountable for results


*Some of this material is thanks to Educational Corner that appears to no longer be around, Lifehack, Princeton Review, Skills You Need, Tony Robbins, and Zety.