To get the most out of your notes, you need to do more than just review them. Consolidating your notes on a weekly basis and before exams makes your studying more focused and active.
Picture: Marco Arment
Over at College Info Geek, Tom Miller of WTF Professor explains that taking the time to make your notes look fancy during a lecture is a waste of your time. Instead, he suggests you focus only on jotting down as much useful information as possible, no matter how messy or disorganized it is. At the end of each week, you take your pages of notes and lay them all out on a table and start to organise them by concept. Once you have everything grouped together, you find the most important — or personally helpful — notes and consolidate your week's worth of lecture notes into a single page of notes. Miller explains:
Each time you re-organise your notes, you're doing the same thing in your brain. You're reinforcing the important information into chunks, connecting it to your existing mental models. This makes the information faster to retrieve because you've packaged it more efficiently.
Essentially, by physically consolidating the information, your brain follows suit, and those key concepts stick in your mind better. Come exam time, you do the whole process again, but this time you're consolidating each week's single page of notes into a single page of exam notes; filled only with the most essential information you need to conquer the test. There are a lot of great ways to take notes, and this may not be the best for you, but it's definitely worth trying. You can read more about the consolidation method at the link below.