Is there a ‘right way’ to make revision notes?

Watch
gsrh05
Badges: 5
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#1
Report Thread starter 2 weeks ago
#1
Hi there,
Is there a ‘right way’ to make revision notes? Usually I would make notes on A4 sheets of lined paper and basically write out the whole text book (obviously trying to condense some of the points) but being honest I don’t find this a very effective way of revising because I don’t feel I process the information when I’m writing the notes because I’m just reading and copying, also I find I don’t really look back at these notes I’ve made and so they are more for ‘in the moment’ memorising I suppose. I recently bought a gcse biology study guide that has the whole syllabus in it, clearly described and explained, (I prefer to use that than my textbook as it has more visual elements to it and I find it easier to understand as it explains things better) and so I started to use sticky notes and write the main points from each page on them and then stick them in the book. I have found this very effective and I feel like I am taking in more information by doing this, and also I then have the textbook page right there in case I need something explaining in more detail. I really like this way of revising, but do you think that it’s okay to revise like this for the real exams (I’m only revising for mocks at the moment) or do you think I need to be writing long, heavier notes? I just don’t want to do the wrong thing and I don’t know what the answer is. I like the sticky notes way, but maybe it’s not thorough enough? Thoughts?
Last edited by gsrh05; 2 weeks ago
0
reply

GuessName
Badges: 9
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#2
Report 2 weeks ago
#2
(Original post by gsrh05)
Hi there,
Is there a ‘right way’ to make revision notes? Usually I would make notes on A4 sheets of lined paper and basically write out the whole text book (obviously trying to condense some of the points) but being honest I don’t find this a very effective way of revising because I don’t feel I process the information when I’m writing the notes because I’m just reading and copying, also I find I don’t really look back at these notes I’ve made and so they are more for ‘in the moment’ memorising I suppose. I recently bought a gcse biology study guide that has the whole syllabus in it, clearly described and explained, (I prefer to use that than my textbook as it has more visual elements to it and I find it easier to understand as it explains things better) and so I started to use sticky notes and write the main points from each page on them and then stick them in the book. I have found this very effective and I feel like I am taking in more information by doing this, and also I then have the textbook page right there in case I need something explaining in more detail. I really like this way of revising, but do you think that it’s okay to revise like this for the real exams (I’m only revising for mocks at the moment) or do you think I need to be writing long, heavier notes? I just don’t want to do the wrong thing and I don’t know what the answer is. I like the sticky notes way, but maybe it’s not thorough enough? Thoughts?
I would say that you are right, there are better ways of revising for exams. For example, there is a lot of research on the effectiveness of spaced repetition and active recall and there are many mediums available to do this e.g. Anki and Quizlet. I'll give you an overview of how I started using better techniques for exams (when I too realized that copying notes out was very inefficient!)

First separate the ideas of knowledge and exams. The GCSE exams are just a snapshot of the actual subject area tested in a specific way so I would suggest making revision notes specifically for the exam board rather than for the topic (I think this is an important distinction to make). After you have read about Anki (my preferred medium), you can start making flashcards. These would contain a combination of both the knowledge listed in the specification and answers to common questions from mark schemes, conflating the knowledge into mark scheme material where possible. It is also important to make good flashcards (i.e. concise and the answer should be exactly what the question is asking for) so google how to do this too (though mark schemes are generally pretty concise anyway).

The next stage would be making a categorization system e.g. in a note taking app like Obsidian/ Notion/Remnote (better than Anki's deck/tagging system) and combining this with active recall and spaced repetition but that is something that you can read a bit more about once you get started (ask me again if you want).

To answer your question, I would say it depends on what you mean by "way" and "right". You could say that spaced repetition and active recall are the most effective according to evidence evidence so are right, however, there are variations within these techniques themselves. In my opinion, there definitely are wrong ways, though, and those would be those that are clearly (based on evidence) less efficient i.e. copying out notes by hand.

N.B. I know it seems a little shallow to be preparing only for the exams rather than "developing your knowledge", but I think that excessive standardization has suppressed this so it is not necessary to score well in exams, and properly developing your knowledge can often take longer to do. The word "properly" itself is variable as there are different levels of education, with GCSE being only the starting point and you could define "properly" at each level. Tbh the main reason we learn things is to apply them to something or discover more, meaning the value of knowledge is largely worth its application, which, in this case is the exam aside from the pleasure you gain from the learning process itself (but that is a different debate). You could, therefore, argue that it is right to study just for the exams at the level of GCSEs.

If you are still insistent on not just following the exam spec for the sake of it (which I have started doing) and have the time, you can always build up your knowledge and then apply it to the exam separately. For example, I have made a categorization system for my knowledge of certain subjects, and then I have "cheat-sheets" for the exam, which help me apply that generalized knowledge to the exam. If you don't have long before exams, however, I would recommend only preparing the knowledge you need for the exam and practicing doing PPQs under time conditions too (then making the ones you have done/got wrong into flashcards).
Last edited by GuessName; 2 weeks ago
1
reply
gsrh05
Badges: 5
Rep:
? You'll earn badges for being active around the site. Rep gems come when your posts are rated by other community members.
#3
Report Thread starter 2 weeks ago
#3
(Original post by GuessName)
I would say that you are right, there are better ways of revising for exams. For example, there is a lot of research on the effectiveness of spaced repetition and active recall and there are many mediums available to do this e.g. Anki and Quizlet. I'll give you an overview of how I started using better techniques for exams (when I too realized that copying notes out was very inefficient!)

First separate the ideas of knowledge and exams. The GCSE exams are just a snapshot of the actual subject area tested in a specific way so I would suggest making revision notes specifically for the exam board rather than for the topic (I think this is an important distinction to make). After you have read about Anki (my preferred medium), you can start making flashcards. These would contain a combination of both the knowledge listed in the specification and answers to common questions from mark schemes, conflating the knowledge into mark scheme material where possible. It is also important to make good flashcards (i.e. concise and the answer should be exactly what the question is asking for) so google how to do this too (though mark schemes are generally pretty concise anyway).

The next stage would be making a categorization system e.g. in a note taking app like Obsidian/ Notion/Remnote (better than Anki's deck/tagging system) and combining this with active recall and spaced repetition but that is something that you can read a bit more about once you get started (ask me again if you want).

To answer your question, I would say it depends on what you mean by "way" and "right". You could say that spaced repetition and active recall are the most effective according to evidence evidence so are right, however, there are variations within these techniques themselves. In my opinion, there definitely are wrong ways, though, and those would be those that are clearly (based on evidence) less efficient i.e. copying out notes by hand.

N.B. I know it seems a little shallow to be preparing only for the exams rather than "developing your knowledge", but I think that excessive standardization has suppressed this so it is not necessary to score well in exams, and properly developing your knowledge can often take longer to do. The word "properly" itself is variable as there are different levels of education, with GCSE being only the starting point and you could define "properly" at each level. Tbh the main reason we learn things is to apply them to something or discover more, meaning the value of knowledge is largely worth its application, which, in this case is the exam aside from the pleasure you gain from the learning process itself (but that is a different debate). You could, therefore, argue that it is right to study just for the exams at the level of GCSEs.

If you are still insistent on not just following the exam spec for the sake of it (which I have started doing) and have the time, you can always build up your knowledge and then apply it to the exam separately. For example, I have made a categorization system for my knowledge of certain subjects, and then I have "cheat-sheets" for the exam, which help me apply that generalized knowledge to the exam. If you don't have long before exams, however, I would recommend only preparing the knowledge you need for the exam and practicing doing PPQs under time conditions too (then making the ones you have done/got wrong into flashcards).
Thank you so, so much! This is extremely helpful!
1
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

What is your favourite revision method?

Taking notes manually (22)
23.16%
Note taking apps (3)
3.16%
Flashcards (14)
14.74%
Revision guides (3)
3.16%
Past papers (48)
50.53%
Something else (let us know in the thread) (5)
5.26%

Watched Threads

View All