My Study Notes for the Entrance Exam
June 2, 2012 § 9 Comments
My notes have definitely evolved over this whole study process. For anyone interested in how I took notes and what they looked like, this post is for you. I’m big about colors and organization because it helps keep me focused and helps me actually enjoy what I am doing. This probably won’t be the most exciting of my posts…
In the beginning I simply scribbled down notes as I read from the book. I noted the headers of each section, but didn’t really organize it.
I then began using a trick that I had learned from a teacher in high school. He told me that he used to divide the page into two columns: one more narrow one where he would write the topic and then one wider one that contained information pertaining to that topic. The idea was that, while studying, you could cover the wider column and test yourself on what you knew of the topics listed in the more narrow column.
I then started adding any extra notes or examples in red, following the basic info that I wrote about each topic.
At this point the exam date was closing in and I realized that I was noting down a lot of information that I didn’t really think I was going to need. I had to start prioritizing the info that would be more likely to be on the test and putting aside the info that they might not include. I started a new notebook that I turned into a sort of in-depth study guide. I focused on more main points and phrased all the topic headers as questions, so that they would function more like flashcards.
I took everything a step further and made profiles for all of the macromolecules: proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates. On these I noted down key information that would take up no more than 1 or 2 pages. These could then be used as quick reference sheets.
When I was in college, I would always take really colorful notes and store them in laminated covers. Definitely a lot more high maintenance than other notes I have seen, but I cannot stress how much it helps me study! It makes them fun to look at and requires that I understand the information enough to organize it. I even gave my Calculus notes to a friend, who later claimed that they helped him pass his class. So, I continued on this and began taking my notes in this style. I tried to stick to the “summary” state of mind. I figured that knowing a little bit of a lot of topics would help me more than knowing a lot about a few topics.
I then discovered the Khan Academy videos. This really helped me because I was provided with a lot of diagrams to supplement my text notes – a really useful tool for visual learners.
In the last days before my exam, I went even further with the macromolecule cheat sheets and created profiles based on “the 5 W’s”. My breakdown was as follows:
Who: Examples of the macromolecule
What: Chemical composition
Where: Location in the body (cell membranes, organs, etc)
Why: Reason why they are important
When: When they do what they do, when they are synthesized or catabolized
On the very last night before the exam, I was stressed out of my mind. I had yet to go through the example exams I had – a result of bad planning. I asked Skjalg to test me and suddenly realized that there were several important areas that I had forgotten to cover. So I scribbled down this last cheat sheet. I didn’t think it would have much of an effect on my preparation for the exam, but it SAVED me. There were about 4 or 5 questions on the exam that I was able to answer correctly because of these last minute notes.