Year 11 and 12 subjects often focus very heavily on content, but rarely upon the methods of learning and consolidating memory. To efficiently learn everything that you need to know, you need to focus on every part of the learning process. Notes you take in class are most likely your best resource, but so many students don't even take a second glance at their notes until cramming for the exam!
1. Always focus actively on your notes
Active note taking involves engaging with the content. A very simple way of doing this is to never write down exactly what your teacher says or has written on the board: by putting notes into your own words, you're forcing your brain to process and deeply understand the content. This will lead toward better recall of information. Another important aspect of successful note-taking is to organise your notes in a way that makes sense for you. Group and colour-code similar concepts and underline areas you find more difficult so you can later revise these areas more carefully.
2. Be discerning
Many students write down as much as they possibly can from lessons, however, on the contrary, you should be aiming to condense the information you're given as simply and in as few words as possible. Work out which information is most important and leave out extraneous details. Not only will you have less information to recall, but when you revisit your notes, they will be simpler and easier to comprehend.
3. Revise notes soon after class
Studies show that you need to regularly revisit notes in order to ensure good, consistent recall. If you engage with notes again within the first 24 hours of writing them, and then again within a week, the chance of laying a solid memory foundation is dramatically increased. This is far better than leaving everything to a week before the exam, when it will be overwhelming and too late to lay down long-term memory!
4. Do more than just reading your notes
Revision of notes needs to go beyond just reading them to ensure best recall. If you engage with notes again within the first 24 hours of writing them, and then again within a week, the chance of laying a solid memory foundation is dramatically increased. This is far better than leaving everything to a week before the exam, when it will be overwhelming and too late to lay down long-term memory!
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