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Exam Preparation Week 1

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

During my time in VCE, revision notes were one of my most effective study methods and played a large role in my success. BUT, I believe that not all revision notes are effective; their style, structure and content can affect how useful they are.

So if you’re tackling your own revision notes at the moment, hopefully some of these tips will help.

1. Tailoring your revision notes to YOU

Did I ever buy or borrow someone else’s Psychology notes? NEVER!

While looking at other students’ notes is a great way to gain some new ideas, I believe that revision notes should be tailored to the student using them.

For example, I am an extremely visual learner, so using colour and images was vital for me to learn and absorb content. In contrast, some of my friends learnt effectively from simple, black and white notes with lots of detailed examples and explanations. Some even inserted video links or auditory recordings.

Similar to my advice in the last blog, consider how YOU learn best and what works for YOU.

2. Flashcards vs revision notes

This is a controversial one. A lot of students at my school loved using flashcards to learn psych content. For me, flashcards were a great way to test myself purely on definitions. HOWEVER, I never used flashcards as my only method of revision, as there were a lot of drawbacks.

For example, flashcards:

✘ didn’t allow for a lot of visual learning.

✘ are very small (even the big ones), so it’s difficult to fit more information and examples on them.

✘ can’t be edited easily

✘ are difficult to find information on (without sifting through all the cards)

✘ could get lost, damaged or mixed up very easily.

3. Writing or typing?

In past years, I had always handwritten my notes. However, when I began VCE, I felt as though it was more effective and time efficient to type them.

Again, this is personal preference. For me, some advantages of typing notes were:

✓ The ability to quickly make revision notes

✓ Could be easily edited

✓ Easy to move content and examples to other sections

✓ Easy to find what you’re looking for

✓ Could be backed up in the cloud

✓Easy to create graphs, tables and illustrations on

During VCE, and even now at university, I LOVED Microsoft OneNote. It allowed me to create dividing sections, move around notes and be creative.

4. Using the VCAA dotpoints

For me, using VCAA dot points were incredibly important, as any words or theories mentioned in the dotpoints could be assessed. It also helped me to decide what information I wouldn’t include in my notes, as it didn’t seem as valuable.

For example:

5. What resources did I use?

To create my notes, I used a variety of resources. Primarily, I used my teacher’s notes and powerpoint slides, as well as the textbook.

However, one thing that I always kept in mind was to NEVER just copy and paste this information. If I did that, what was the point in even making revision notes? For me, my revision notes were an opportunity to SUMMARISE content and rewrite it in my OWN WORDS. I found this to be the most effective way to learn and digest information.

In addition, I would continuously add information from other resources, such as Edrolo videos, practise questions and other information that my teachers gave me.

7. Presenting content

I loved finding useful ways to present content, rather than just paragraphs of text. This made it a lot easier to digest.

8. Using notes during exam time

So, once my revision notes were made, how did I actually use them?

A lot of students would copy out their psych notes over and over (often in front of Netflix!), but this would have been a huge waste of time for me. Instead, I focused on ACTIVELY revising my psychology notes. Rewriting them mindlessly, or just skimming over them, NEVER allowed me to absorb the information.

Instead, I would use strategies such as:

• constantly tweaking my notes (in my own words) • using exam answers to write better explanations • adding in difficult exam questions • closing my notes and explaining content aloud • summarising content or drawing diagrams on a plain sheet of paper (from memory)

9. What I would have done differently

Some things I would have changed were:

  • Trying to write more simply

  • Writing more in my own words

  • Creating more compare and contrast tables

  • Adding more examples and difficult VCAA questions

I hope some these tips help you all in creating and tweaking your notes! We will continue to discuss ways to use your notes throughout these blogs. With school holidays fast approaching, I will be discussing ways I used my break effectively in the next blog. See you guys then!

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