Written By: Kerstin Allin
Exclusively for WIB.
The first 5 weeks of any semester is always strange. There are ice breakers, dad jokes, missing classrooms, non-existent required texts… The weeks speed by and everyone is in the ‘it’s chill, nothing is due yet’ phase. You skip a lecture and tell yourself that you’ll take notes from the slides later in the week but then this is repeated 4 consecutive times and now you’re staring at the multiple 40 page long powerpoints feeling so overwhelmed you just want to take a nap – here are some tips.
1. Take notes straight from the textbook
Yes, you have to purchase the textbook. The lecture slides will never have enough detail to study from. They will often just list the topics for that week and then have some cryptic one liners underneath. But it’s not like the textbook will save you – most of the required texts provide us with too much non-examinable information, leaving us with little motivation to read it from cover to cover. To best utilise your time, you should look at the topics mentioned in the lectures and learn these topics from the textbook. A lil bit of this, a lil bit of that.
2. Identify what you already know
Another important thing worth mentioning is to only take notes on the content that is hard to understand or remember. When I am in a rush to complete my study notes, I often find myself writing everything down because I like completeness. But don’t waste your time writing every detail. If you look at a concept or a term and can ramble on a few substantial sentences about it then leave it out – time is precious.
3. Practice questions are powerful
The quickest and most effective way to learn content (whether or not you’re pressed for time) is to answer questions – not reading, copying, typing or even highlighting! *gasp*. Whether it is a question from the textbook or a broad question you made up, when you answer it you tend to vomit everything you know about that topic. Then you check the textbook to see what you didn’t know. Then you answer the question again. And again. And most likely, again. The more the information is repeated, the more likely it is to be retained. This is the process of converting short term memory into long term – and it is definitely more effective than highlighting. My first attempt of a question is usually terrible but I re-attempt that same question multiple times and end up with a memorised answer that can be tailored to any question relating to that specific topic.
4. Ensure you have a full day to catch up
Let’s not forget that you’re behind in your lectures because you were too lazy busy to write notes in the intended weeks – you need a whole day to get in the zone. It is hard to follow through with your plans to do a lecture after work at 6pm, so take a day off and get the job done.
5. STUDENT VIP -life-saving
Student VIP lets you buy second-hand textbooks, hire tutors and purchase subject notes. 12,967 notes from across Australia to be exact. You can search for notes using the subject number and it presents you will a list of the holy grail. Before purchasing you can view the length, word count, a preview and a short description from the seller. Obviously this should only be used for emergencies and alongside the notes you already have. The syllabus changes and you can’t depend on another person to have created the notes correctly, but I felt the need to share this amazing resource with you all.
On a final note – Don’t fall 5 lectures behind.