How to write revision notes?Watch
Today I tried to write some biology notes using my notes in my book. and my cgp revision guide but trying to gather information from both of these sources ended up taking way too long, and after 1 hour spent I had only gotten half way through enzymes - I honestly don’t think I have the stamina to spend so long writing notes.
So I’m thinking that maybe for my science revision notes to save time maybe I could summarise all the notes I have made in my book over the topic, and not use other sources... so the revision notes would basically be a summary of what I wrote in my book, and when it comes to using them I would use them in conjunction with my cgp textbooks?
Is this still effective or is it necessary for my science notes to be the one all-inclusive place to revise from in order for them to be effective?
I personally did like having one set of comprehensive notes, detailing everything I needed to learn in one place. However that doesn't mean those notes are then the only resource to use, more they're something to refer back to without needing to go flicking through textbooks.
That said, it's worth considering how you're writing notes. For example do your notes contain a lot of superfluous words or do they get to the point? As an example, consider the following notes.
The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell
Mitochondria = Cell powerhouse
If you happen to be writing notes in full sentences, you're wasting a lot of time on words that don't matter. Equally this will slow down your revision, and makes it harder to pick out key details. One way to save time is to simply cut out words not directly necessary in that context.
So should I also be making notes for other subjects like English, business, geography etc. ? Or are notes only effective for science?
If I’m supposed to make notes on these subjects too, what would they look like.
This comes with the caveat that your notes need to be complete though, because if your notes are incomplete then all your revision which relies on them will also be incomplete. Hence why you need to spend the time making sure they're correct and complete.
Keep in mind that the end goal is not to write effective notes. The end goal is that you remember everything you need to remember for your exams. The method you use does not matter, and writing your notes is one small part of revision.
Could you tell me roughly how long in hours would it take to write comprehensive notes for a certain topic in science, say B2 (organisation) for example. If the answer is it depends on the person, then how long did it take you? Did it take around 3 hours or closer to 10?
I'm going to make an educated guess and say it'd be closer to 3 hours than 10, assuming you're just writing notes and have a good understanding of the topic. The less you understand, and therefore the more you need to look things up and do further research, the longer it'll take. I'm also basing that guess on GCSEs not being particularly dense, and you should therefore be able to condense the raw information down into a handful of pages at most.
Rather than trying to focus in on a specific number though, I'd instead look at why you're unsatisfied. If you think you're spending too long, try to work out why that is and how you can shorten that time while keeping your notes detailed. If you need help with that, you're more than welcome to post a picture of your notes (or PM me directly if you'd prefer) and we can say if your notes are overly detailed for example.
A word on hours though. Don't use how many hours it takes as a measure of success. I see a lot of people ask things like "how many hours do I need to study to get all 9s" and this seems a little like a variation on that. The point is not to count hours, it's to put in the required amount to get the results you want. And when you think the required amount of hours is too high, you start looking at ways to work more efficiently.
The second question is how can I know if my notes are comprehensive, is it maybe a good idea to write them on a word document first because its easy to edit them and add new things and then write them on paper? Thank you for your help
To give you a bit of an idea on how I handled notes at college and university, I'd have multiple iterations of my notes which got progressively more condensed. I'd take rough notes in each class which covered the content learned. Then after classes I'd write up a good copy of my notes as an initial reference. This served several purposes, most notably is that it was a chance to identify what was missing or not understood and do further research. It was also a chance to solidify the knowledge, since I've now reviewed it twice within a few hours. By keeping on top of notes after each class they didn't pile up, and I'd have a comprehensive set of notes long before my exams started. This is equivalent to you writing our notes in a Word document.
Then closer to exams I'd prepare my revision notes. Using my previous notes, which acted like a textbook, I'd condense information down as much as possible. This would give me all the key information I needed, without having to look back at the original material or my comparatively verbose notes. I never used them, but if I needed other forms of revision like flashcards I could have made them using these condensed notes as well.
I'm not at all saying this is a suitable method for you to use, but it should give you an idea of one approach. In terms of the time investment, it'd mean maybe 30 minutes to an hour a day, writing up notes and doing further research where necessary. Ideally you want to stretch the note taking process out over a long period of time to avoid burnout, but also find a good balance between having clear, correct notes and notes that are too verbose. The more you write notes, the more you'll get an idea of how long it takes you.
I will reiterate though, writing notes is really just the first stage and needs to be part of a balanced revision schedule. Getting the notes in good shape early on will put you in good stead, and writing notes is a form of revision. But at some point you'll need to change approaches and start dedicating time to things like past papers.