Are you tired of constantly taking notes and still not remembering everything your teacher says?
If so, you’ll be happy to know I’ve put together some informative techniques for you. Once you start using these methods, remembering will become much easier for those difficult tests ahead.
Successful Study Skill #1: Use Coloured Pens and Pencils
Take out some of your notes right now. What is the same throughout all of them?
I bet it’s he pen or pencil colour. When something is one dimensional like this on an entire page, it’s hard to remove segments from each page. Instead, try using coloured pens and pencils to take your notes.
Remember, make this a routine and positive results will soon follow. How soon?
Within HOURS. You’ll start to KNOW and FEEL like you can remember more, but NOTHING happens unless you give it a go.
The more visual cues you can create, the easier it will be to recall information later. The use of colours is the simplest way to improve memory recall. As you begin experimenting with different colours, you may notice that some colours work better than others. You may even prefer to use some colours for specific uses.
I like to write the body of my text in a colour other than blue, usually black, with non-black highlights. I always correct it in red if necessary. This is due to the extreme contrast that black and red represent to one another. You’ll end up being able to find it much easier on your pages cluttered with notes.
Sometimes, when I am studying something I find boring, I will write the notes in purple or green so it stands out in my mind – when I am trying to recall THAT topic, I can think in purple or green instead of trying to ‘find it’ amongst the blue and black.
Successful Study Skill #2: Underline and Accentuate Important Items
This is very important when taking notes. Be creative and explore different variations. Multi-stroke, underlining, boxes, circles, and shadows are effective in drawing attention to increasingly important items or definitions. Just be sure not to overdue it or this technique will become ineffective.
You’ll know when you get to the right proportion of highlighting.
You’ll also know if it’s better for you to capture the notes FIRST and then come back to HIGHLIGHT later. I find it helps to do it LATER if I have trouble remembering something. If I can easily remember, I won’t highlight it. This is especially the case the NIGHT BEFORE THE EXAM. That REALLY helps if the highlights weren’t there previously.
Successful Study Skill #3: Draw Figures, Charts, and Graphs
Sometimes things just can’t be communicated clearly only using words. Relationships, timelines, causality and exchanges are difficult to explain in writing. However, they are easy to illustrate even for the artistically challenged like me!
These diagrams should include colours and other graphical representations such as bullets, arrows, shading and text of different colours. Doodles work just as well – the KEY is to jog your MEMORY – not win a drawing contest.
Don’t forget that NO ONE ever sees your notes, only you do!
Successful Study Skill #4: Use Large Paper
I use large paper that is a little smaller than A3 or 11″x17″. Ideally buy old-fashioned printer in continuous forms that are sold in boxes of 5,000 sheets that cost around $25-$30. It’s a great investment considering it’ll last you several years!
I like the continuous nature of computer paper because I can “open it up” and get big diagrams on one sheet that can be easily folded and reviewed at the last minute, just before an exam.
There are one or two different things I do with these large sheets. Either I get all the main points of a course on one sheet or I section each page into a subject, topic or idea. It really just depends on the course that I am taking.
Regardless, they are both great ways to CAPTURE the proper information you need in a VISUAL FORMAT that is easier to REMEMBER.
For instance, I recently took a course where each lecture was reduced to one entire page. It consolidated 17 textbook chapters and 30 academic articles. The point is, it’s a lot easier to review 15 pages as opposed to over 500 in a textbook. What would normally take several hours of searching is now formatted for easy access within minutes.
Seriously though, creating these pages is “fun” for me. I know that when I am doing an exercise, it is all being stored in my memory banks.
When you try it you’ll feel your level of confidence build so that you’ll have a greater sense of control. In the end it’s important to see the “big picture” as a visual cue. In my book, “Get The Best Grades With The Least Amount Of Effort“,I explain how you can make this process even more powerful using your auditory and kinesthetic senses for ABSOLUTE RECALL!
Onward and upward!
Dr Marc Dussault
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