Tuesday, 28 October 2008

How Do You Make Notes?

One of the things that I have always had a problem with while I have been studying with the OU is the compilation of notes.  Practically every course has a section in its Introduction booklet or Study Guide entitled 'Note taking' or 'Making notes'.  Every year I read this section and tell myself that I will make sure that I do indeed compile good notes so that when the time comes to revise for the exam I will be prepared.  But I never manage it.

I start every course full of enthusiasm for the task. Reading the course material and carrying out the activities and exercises that are proscribed is not a problem. However, producing notes that will help me to remember all the necessary information to help me pass the exam seems to be completely beyond me.  I have read various books about strategies for this task, and no matter what I try, I never seem to be able to succeed.

The last few courses that I have completed have not included an exam, a substantial piece of written work being submitted in place of it.  This suits me fine because I am afraid that exams cause me to go into a state of extreme anxiety, which generally starts a couple of weeks before the exam date and is likely to continue until I get the results.  I have never failed an OU exam yet, but I have had a couple of close run things.

While the first of the courses that I am taking at the moment is one that relies on a long written piece in place of an exam, the second course does not, so note taking is something that I need to address again so that I can revise for the exam in as efficient a manner as possible. So, how am I going to produce these notes?

To start with I am going to skim read each chapter, highlighting important points as I find them. Then I shall read each section of each chapter more carefully and make handwritten notes of significant information and producing a precis of that section.  After that I shall put a bullet-pointed version of these notes into Microsoft Office One Note with references to the pages where the information came from.  As I complete each of the course books I will print out these notes and store them in a folder with the course book and the TMA that covers this part of the course, and hopefully by the time it comes to revising for the exam I will have a comprehensive series of notes and references that will enable me to give a good account of myself in the exam.

I think that this should give me the best chance of getting a good mark in the exam; only time will tell.  But if any of you out there have any suggestions that will help me to make the notes that I need and to revise efficiently, I would be very grateful to receive them.

1 comment:

cb said...

I'm afraid I can't give any advice as firstly, I find that note-taking is quite a personal thing and also because I'm a bit rubbish at it. I tend to take notes when I'm reading (academically rather than for pleasure!) or at lectures but it is mostly an illegible scrawl with some doodles. I do this because it helps me to remember the content of the book/lecture at the time as much as using it as a resource afterwards.
One thing I have found useful though, is writing down interesting quotations/references as I go because it can be horrible finding them afterwards, but that's more for a piece of longer form writing, rather than for exams.
I don't know if it's just me (I suspect it is) but I have OneNote and I find it really difficult to understand!

Good luck with it anyway!