10 Tips to best prepare for your next Exam


2. Make short Notes yourself

If you ask me just one thing to do then this is it. There is no better alternative of having short notes written by yourself in the classroom. I won’t mind if you ignore all the other points mentioned in this article and just stick to this one. I cannot emphasize more.

I have countless examples of students who were dull in class but taking notes passing the exams flawlessly as compared to those who were brilliant but not doing notes. Let me tell you the reason.

I am not doubting your power to memorize if you don’t take notes but I am certain that you won’t be able to recall important bits of lectures. Consider your brain working like computer hard drive in which you have different files stacked in different folders. If you don’t know where you have placed your file you won’t be able to access it. Same goes for our brain. If you can’t recall you won’t remember. Short notes are there to help you recall the situation and then everything else will be provided to you by your brain.

In short short notes act as a ‘time travelling machine’ for me. So have short notes with me I can sleep tight without worrying that I will forget the lecture in its correct order and structure.

Yes I understand many of you must have started worrying already that how to write notes. Well the simple answer is start doing it. In the beginning it will be a mess and you will feel like that teacher is just telling so much and so fast that it is good to have it recorded. No!  you won’t be looking for shortcuts. I will come to that in a minute. So what you do is start right away and come up with any type of notes and make it a habit and over a period of time you will learn one amazing skill and that is:

Short notes are not about knowing what to note but it is actually about knowing what NOT to note.

And quite sadly there is no shortcut to learn this technique.

But why not recording? This is the exact question I hear every time all the time when I ask students to take short notes. With the advent of facilities and now having smart phones I reckon that we humans are no smart anymore as we used to be.

I don’t know if I am really correct about this or not but I think there are different types of memory. Hearing memory, visual memory, content memory, ideological memory and so on.

Why do you think you remember songs easier than your lecture? Because when you hear song you record the tune as well. In a song you have three important things to record:

  1. Lyrics
  2. Tune
  3. Voice

And the moment you know any of these three the other two will follow. Remember I told you about recalling? Exactly!

In lecture however, there is no poetic combinations, no instruments and no nice voice to recall and thus you only have the content. So it will be much more difficult to recall what your teacher told you. But by adding your action of writing you get another memory string in action. So when you write what you hear you get two things to record! And the moment you the one the second will follow. Getting my point? Its like knowing many different routes to get the same point!

So if you are relying on recordings you are not adding another route to recall your memory. Few other benefits of short notes will be discussed later in the article.