Thursday, February 7, 2013

Quiz Notes: The Secret to Acing Exams!

Yesterday I wrote about the difference between being active in studying and being passive with the process. Today I want to give you a quick strategy that involves the student with the material and more importantly saves time. This is probably my favorite strategy to study for a class so I feel I need to pass it on. I did not create it, but I have used it and it works!

Quiz Notes:

Here is the process. In my notebook, I would take the page that I would normally take notes on and draw a line 1/3 of the way from the left of the page. On the right of that line, I take my notes in class as I normally would.

Then after class or that night I write questions to myself on the left of that line about the notes that I took that day. It is very important that I did this every night I took notes. I may write three questions per page of notes. This may take about 5 minutes. I look over my notes, pick out the three most important topics in them and devise questions that address those. I then quickly answer those questions in my head. The entire process takes maybe 7 minutes.

The next day before class I may glance at the questions from the previous day before the lesson and answer them in my head again. I take notes that day as normal, the that night repeat the process. Writing the new questions may take 5 minutes and a few more minutes answering today's and yesterday's questions in my head.

Repeat day after day. Think about day 15. I may have 45 questions about my notes if I took notes all those days. Day 15's questions are easy to answer in my head because I just wrote them. Day 1's questions are easy to answer because I have answered them 14 times already.

The premise is that if you study for 5 minutes every night, you don't need to study for 3-6 hours before the exam. You will keep up in the class and actually know what the teacher is talking about in class. They work GREAT!

Here are some hidden features of quiz notes. If you have a question about the class, teachers/professors hate it when you plop down across their desk, throw your hands up and tell them that you are lost. They then need to spend a lot of time assessing what you know and what you actually need help on. If you plop down in their chair and say easily, "Mr. Like, I have been writing these questions about my notes... how would you answer this one?"  They can address the problem right away. They love it.

Try this... "Mr. Like, I have been writing these questions about my notes to help me study. Are these the type of questions I should be asking?"  You may be surprised, but they with more often than not look them over and say, "This one is good... you don't need to focus on this... perhaps ask this one this way."  Guess what? They are giving you the test! That is how they write the exam! They look at their notes and ask questions about it. You have been practicing the exam every night for 15 days!

In high school we don't take that many notes in a day, so the nightly work is minimal. This is an ACTIVE strategy that is much better than PASSIVELY reading over your notes the night before an exam. It takes very little time. I have written questions from the previous day while waiting for class to start, or even during class when a teacher highlights a point or statement that you know is going to be on the exam.

Try it. Adapt it. Make it yours!