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.

First stage – basic notes while reading from book

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.

Stage 2 – Topic and info columns

I then started adding any extra notes or examples in red, following the basic info that I wrote about each topic.

Stage 3 – Adding in examples and side notes in info column

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.

Stage 4 – Study guide with flashcard form

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.

Protein Cheat Sheet – page 1

Protein Cheat Sheet – page 2

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.

Stage 5 – Colorful notes in laminated sheets

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.

Khan Academy Notes: Cellular Respiration Overview

Khan Academy Notes: Mitosis

Khan Academy Notes: Role of Phagocytes in Non-specific/Innate Immune Response

Khan Academy Notes: Inflammation Response Overview

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

5 W’s Profile – Protein

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.

Last minute cheat sheet

Khan Academy

May 31, 2012 § 3 Comments

I’m pretty obsessed with this site. If I get into Semmelweis it will be in huge part to Khan Academy. The videos are addicting. I am able to study a large amount of information in a smaller amount of time – and I remember almost everything. On the way home from the doctor today, I mentally reviewing how neurons work and how the muscles contract and I was surprised to find that I remembered almost everything – and all after simply watching the video once and taking notes. When I got home, I asked Skjalg if I could teach it to him. I spent about half an hour drawing out the diagrams and explaining everything to him without looking at my notes. It felt amazing to be able to explain something so detailed without first needing to review it several times.

One of my favorite features of the site is my personal profile. You get points for everything you do on the site and there is a statistics page that shows your progress throughout the day.

Here is my progress from one of the days. As you can see, I studied until 2:00am and then began again at 8:00am – I’m having a lot of trouble sleeping! I was most efficient in the middle of the day and then less so once it was late at night.

Khan Academy progress from May 29th

You can hover your mouse over the diagram and it will show you what that hour of work consisted of – which videos you watched, activities you’ve done, awards you received, etc.

Khan Academy progress May 30th

Study Aids: Molecular Movies

May 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

I discovered this website called Molecular Movies, where you can find tons of animations at the molecular level.

My favorite so far is about the immune response to a strep throat. I think I’ve watched it every day for a week now 🙂 Absolutely fascinating!

Clonal Selection Movie

Study Aids: Khan Academy

May 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

I may have just been completely out of the loop, but I stumbled across this website several hours ago and am totally hooked. Such a revolutionary way of teaching/learning. I implore anyone interested in knowledge in general to check this website out. There are videos covering basic and advanced math, science, history, humanities, even test prep. Below is a 60 minutes story on the site, otherwise you can check it out This is not something that should be overlooked 🙂

Studying, Studying, Studying

May 24, 2012 § 6 Comments

We’re all in it now! Christian has taken a two-week break from work so that he can cram for the exam. Skjalg is using the time to review for the upcoming year (lucky guy gets to do so without the stress of an upcoming exam). I really enjoy when we are all sitting together, purging info, and teaching each other our newfound knowledge. My current plan is to spend one day on each point provided on the check-list I found on Bjørknes Høyskole’s website. For those of you who didn’t see my Study Aids post, here is the file again: Guideline of Topics for the Entrance Exam 2012.

Our study den. A little bit of a library feel going on.

Boys hard at work.

Silly Skjalg 😉

A smiling Skjalg enjoying his periodic table

Study Aids: Bjørknes Høyskole

May 23, 2012 § 6 Comments

Bjørknes Høyskole has a number of useful study aids available on it’s website. They include example exams and a list of things you should know for the exam, and are provided as pdf files on the righthand side of the page – click here. I’ve directly uploaded some of them, just in case the link gets changed or deleted.

55Guideline of Topics for the Entrance Exam 2012

Sample entrance exam Biology 1

Sample entrance exam Biology 2

Sample entrance exam Chemistry 1

Sample entrance exam Chemistry 2

Sample Entrance English Terminology

Let the Studying Games begin!

May 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

12 more days until the exam! Which means that I am heading into hibernation and doing nothing but studying. Today we took advantage of the sun in the back for a of couple hours.

Studying outside

“Backyard” of our building. No one really uses the table out there, so we can use it almost whenever we want. There is direct sunlight from around 10:00-14:30 – perfect for studying AND taking advantage of the weather.

Studying outside

My study spread

After the sun moved on, I moved inside to our study den in the living room. One thing that I find really helps me sit for long periods of time is the ability to look outside every now and then. I’ll throw on some classical music (been listening to a lot of Ludovico Einaudi) and stare out at the beautiful day 🙂

View from my study spot in the living room

Gotta love it!

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