Attending lectures, completing your readings, and taking notes are all good steps to take on the road to academic success, but don’t stop there. These additional practices will increase your chance of translating your lecture attendance, reading, and note-taking into success on exams:
- Reviewing within 24 hours of learning new material and frequently throughout the rest of the term -- from memory as much as possible
- Separating key concepts from details
- Identifying questions you may have and following up by delving deeper into the material & looking for additional resources (e.g.: Khan Academy video), and/or consulting the professor, TA or classmates
- Making connections between what you have learned and other ideas in your course or your experience
- Anticipating questions that you might be asked on the exam, writing them down, and later using them to practice for the test
Use this checklist after each lecture or reading, or after you have completed both the reading and the lecture for a given topic.
Recall: Make a list of what you recall as the key points from the material.
Summarize: Capture the essence of the material covered by writing a short summary of the points above.
Reflect: List any questions that you might have about the material.
Plan: Plan what you will do to obtain answers to the above questions.
Connect: Write a brief explanation of any connections you notice between the material covered today and other ideas in your course or “the real world.” Identify similarities and differences between this material and other concepts you have studied, and think about possible ways to apply the material you have learned.
Write practice questions: Paying particular attention to the connections that you noticed above, write questions that you think might come up on the exam, in the format(s) that the exam will be in (e.g.: Essay, short answer, multiple choice, etc.).
Review your notes regularly and use the practice questions you have written to prepare effectively for exams.
You can also download a worksheet (printable version) with space for your notes.