Having good notes will ensure that you won’t spend time during exam revision looking in a textbook for something that you might have forgotten during the year.
The key to making good notes is to make them before exam time. In fact, you should have them done by the end of Term 3. There is no point in starting to make your notes 2 weeks before the exam because that is a complete waste of time. By that stage of your VCE journey, you should be complete as many practice exams as possible.
There is no one perfect way to make good notes because everyone learns differently. For example, when I’m making my notes I always ensure that where it is appropriate to have images to accompany what I have written down so that I can visualise what is going on.
Ways to structure your Chemistry notes:
There is no one perfect structure for making Chemistry notes, but the following are ways, which I think work well:
- Organise them through topic: you could have a big heading (Gravimetric analysis for example), with a lot of sub-headings that relate to that big heading. E.g. for the topic of spectroscopy your big heading will be ‘Spectroscopy’ and your sub-headings will be the different spectroscopic techniques – AAS, IR, NMR etc.…
- Organise them through Chapter’s as outlined from the textbook: you could use chapter headings as outlined from the textbook you are using. However, this doesn’t allow you to see the interconnectedness of some topics, and you sometimes can end up copying what is in the textbook into your notes, which isn’t what you want.
Benefits of making your own notes:
- The notes will be in your own words and so you will understand what is going on: Using someone else’s notes as your own can sometimes be hard because each person will have their own style of writing and you may not necessarily understand what they have written.
- Can be used as a revision tool: When you are making your notes throughout the year, you are revising what you have learnt. You will be reading over what you have learnt in class, which will serve as a revision for you. Similarly, while you are making your notes you may come across a concept that you don’t quite understand, and so that will be the best time for you to clear up that confusion before the exams.
- Forces you to read the prescribed textbook.
- You can sell them after you finish Year 12: If your notes are good enough, and you received a decent score in Chemistry then you may be able to sell them to other Year 12 Chemistry students and make a few bucks.
Tips on making good notes:
- Consult other textbooks other than the one prescribed by your teacher. There are many Chemistry Textbooks out there (Heinemann, Jacaranda, Chemistry Dimensions, Nelson), and each will have different ways of phrasing certain things. If one textbook explains something better than the other then use that textbook in your notes to explain that key concept. Don’t go overboard though, you don’t want to be reading three textbooks every time you are making your notes, only consult other textbooks if you need to.
- Put things in your own words, that way you will understand what you are writing down.
- Don’t plagiarise. If you copy something from a textbook acknowledge it somewhere in your notes.
- Have a structure. Don’t just write your notes down for the sake of it, make sure it is organised nicely so that it can easily be read by you when revision time comes.
- Make your notes as you go. Don’t wait until the end of Term 3 to start making your notes, because that time should be used for revision.
- If you are stuck on how to structure your notes, have a look at how past students have structured their notes. Maybe someone in your school who has completed Year 12 Chemistry can show you how they structured their notes. You could also look onto ATAR notes where some students have uploaded their notes. Use those notes as a guide on how to make your own notes; don’t just copy what they have written down.
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