The purpose of notes is to provide a concise and an organized flow of your thoughts. When done right, it’ll help you review important information a whole lot better. It’s easier to remember a flow or a pattern than a bunch of random disjointed pieces of information, so the way your notes are organized can help you remember for exams. :D
I used to take extremely neat and pretty notes. It was almost an obsessive-compulsive thing. Pretty things sort of made me want to study more (but I ended up not studying as much anyway because I just felt so accomplished after spending a good long while making pretty notes, I felt like I didn’t have to reread it as much). With no false sense of modesty, I have a pretty neat handwriting if I wrote with purpose (i.e. slowly). My mistake was spending too much time making my textbook outlines look pretty with neat penmanship and colorful formulas when I should’ve been organizing them for better recalling of information. That is a mistake that I would like to share with you, as I think you might learn something from it.
Now, I still write quickly but legibly. It took a while, but I found it less stressful when I stopped being too anal about the appearance of my notes. I found highlighting much easier than swapping between different colored pens. I sketch simplified diagrams when necessary, and I do my best to group similar information together.
I’m not saying that pretty and colorful notes are bad. In fact, if it helps you remember information better, go ahead and do it—but try not to spend too much time on making it pretty, and make sure it’s sustainable. Remember that you have plenty of other courses to study for, not just this one class you’re making notes for right now (and trust me, it gets pretty unmotivating and tiring after a while). Try not to over-decorate! Do not forget the purpose of note-taking! Your time is important, and taking notes is supposed to help you cut down study time in the long run (not add to it!).
I hope this helps some of you! :)
me after group projects
M-W = Bio and Chem Days
Th-Sat = Orgo and Physics Days
Sun = Catch Up, Flashcard, Schedule for Next Week Day - If any content review was missed during those days I use Sunday as my day to to play catch up. I also finish reviewing my graded tests (diff questions, passages, discretes) I’ve done too on this days too.
*T, Th, Sat = 6 Verbal Passages Days
FIRST - Videos and Books
1. Videos = I take notes as if I were in a class. Of course don’t write word for word. I just get the main idea! I actually hand write these notes out btw.
2. Books = I read the summaries and side notes that they have within a chapter first and then I proceed to read the chapter. I write these notes out too.
Another thing I would like to add is that I color code my notes alot. I write my notes using either a black or navy blue pen and I underline the vocabulary words in whatever color I feel like underlining them in, lol. I try to stay consistent too. When that same word is mentioned in another section, I underline it using that same color!
SECOND - Drawing
Using plain printer paper, I draw out the general overview of the concepts studied using colored pens/pencils.
THIRD - Flashcards
Rotate btw online flashcard programs and actually handwriting difficult concepts/tips I tend to forget.
CONFESSION: I make the flashcards, the only bad habit I have is not reviewing them during my down time. I just need to pick some a flash card stack and make it habit to get through that stack that day at least 2 times, lol. Idk we’ll see. But I seriously need to start reviewing the content I’ve already went over so that I won’t forget it.
FOURTH - Outlines and Summary Sheets
- I usually start compiling the outline ad summary sheets during the first step btw. But I like to create outlines so that it can give me a mental organization of the material.
- I type up summary sheets using my written notes in step 1. They include various tips on what the Mcat stresses as well. I also do this by using the Gecko Method. However, I’ve customized it just a bit. Instead, of having 15 pages of condensed notes, I have a bit more. Reason being is that I create the summary sheets for each section as I study them. Her notes are a little bit too condensed for my liking, but only in terms of font and format. When I print them out, I want to be able to read them w/o squinting my eyes and getting a headache, lol.
Also, I print them out to review them too!
FIFTH - Read and Recall
I read over my printed summary notes, and sometimes my hand written notes as a whole one time. After I’ve read over them I grab either a sheet of paper or a dry erase board, look at the outline I made, and recall as much information as I can.
Whatever I miss, I will review it for an hour using another source and answering questions (passages or discrete) and then I move onto…
SIXTH - Discretes and Passages
I test my knowledge completing various passages and discretes from EK, BR, PR, Kaplan, Gold Standard and AAMC.*Lol, yes I have all resources! And you can too! Just google*
*Will update this section more and go into further detail on how I use the different test prep companies resources*
When I begin my long study sessions. I start off by studying 30 min, then I take a 5 min break. Next, I study for 40 mins, then break for 10. And then I continue on studying for 50 min intervals and breaking for 10-15 mins. When I break, I don’t get on any of my social networking websites, except for this one bc its educational, but most of all motivational. I’ve noticed in the past when I get on fb, twitter, instagram, and my other tumblr blog, I tend always go over my break time. So I would suggest during your breaks to:
- listen to songs on your favorite playlist
- hit up/ text your non-premed buddies, lol
- look at motivational/ inspirational blogs/vids
- mcat blogs
- medical blogs/medblr’s
Something that’s inspirational so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed going into the next 50 min study session. For me, this helps to get me riled up and amped for my next 50 min study session, lol!
Oh and another thing too, I don’t listen to music while I study. It interferes with my thought process. I like to hear myself think. Hopefully this makes sense, lol.
So that’s it guys. My method may not work for you b/c it is a lot of writing involved, but I know for me personally writing things over and over again helps me retain the information better!
I think… my success secret is very simply… doing what I say I’m going to do, when I say I’m going to do it.It doesn’t mean that sometimes things aren’t last minute or hectic or stressful, but they get done. Come hell or high water, a way to finish will be found. Even though it’s a simple concept, there are key components to a proper follow through!