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The Art of Study:

Making your own personalised guides is quite different from your normal note-taking. Study guides are more exam-oriented, instead of merely summarising and organising information. It is a tool to help you to study for your exams, and to guide you through answering exam questions. This how-to guide is a summary of my learning experiences in both high school and college, so I hope this can help everyone here.

Goals for the study guides
  • It has to include everything on the syllabus for the examination

  • Omit things that are not going to be useful/helpful in exams

  • There are things that may be very informative, but if they have no relevance to the exam, it’s better to take them out of the study guide

  • Basically, the goal of making this study guide is to have one booklet/notebook that contain things you have learnt in that course, and most importantly, everything you need for the exam.

  • That means you (supposedly) wouldn’t have to refer to any other materials unless specified in the study guide

  • Making this booklet will help you to summarise and analyse information - a great way to study

Materials that you need

If you are in college, lecture notes are usually the most important material you should refer to when studying for exams. If you are in high school, textbooksare more likely to prevail. It depends on your course structure and the way your teacher/lecturer teaches.

Past papers / practice papers are great guidance for you when making study guides, because they help you to understand what will be on the exam paper, and most importantly, how you could answer the question.

Important tip: while making your own summary of the knowledge is useful, write down the model answer from the past paper in your study guide instead. That’s the way you should answer the question related to that topic in the exam, so you shouldn’t waste time putting in and memorising information that is not helpful.

For college students: tutorial questions usually offer great guidance as to what is going to appear in the exam. Putting those in the study guides is usually very helpful.

Organising the study guides

Here are a few tips when organising your notes:

  • Put a red star next to topics that you think are going to come up in the examination

  • Circle topics that you don’t understand / fail to grasp when making the study guides

  • Definitely use bullet points if possible

  • Highlight key words with definition in one specific colour, or anything that requires direct recitation

  • Because this is what you will study for the exam, also put down tips that are going to help you with the exams. (You can either draw a box to alert yourself or use a post-it note for these).

  • Answering structure / attack plan for common exam questions

  • Some common mistakes previous students made in the exam (which is usually brought up by the teacher / lecturer)

  • Important concept / clarification of misunderstandings

  • Remember to leave a page for each chapter and write a summary of it during revision

  • This will help you to understand the flow of the chapter and it is a great way to recall the information you have just organised

If you want to know more about how to take notes, here are some of my other posts:


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