Writing revision notes is an important part of being a student no matter your field of study. It is also more of an art that you need to learn that you need to master so you can perform your best.
What To Include
When I was studying I often would try to include everything that’s taught throughout the semester in the revision notes. This was a mistake. The truth of the matter is that not everything that is going to be taught in the semester will be examined.
Sometimes you will be fortunate and you will be advised on what material will be examined. If you are not that fortunate here are a few pointers:
- Use the study objectives as your framework. Does the material your looking through fit into the overall objectives of the semester? Then you should include it. If not, consider excluding it.
- Has the material already been examined in the semester? If not consider excluding it or limiting the amount you include in revision notes. One reason for this is it has already been examined. In my experience because it has already been assessed, it will often not be a second time. This is because there is a limited amount time in an exam and often there is a lot of material already to cover. Sometimes however, material you cover in an assignment can be included in an exam but because you will have already studied it in depth it shouldn’t be a focus of your revision notes as other more important areas. So you can include them but limit the overall amount that you include.
- Don’t include every possible supporting material for a topic. Revision notes are meant to jog your memory. You want enough material that it can remind you of a concept, how to calculate or explain it but not enough that you are basically restating the text book.
How long should revision notes be?
As a rule of thumb, it shouldn’t take you more than 15-20 minutes to read through all your revision notes for a subject. If it does, it won’t be of much use prior to an exam as it will take too long to read through. It’s also an indicator that it has taken too long to prepare so you’ve spent all your time preparing revision notes rather than actually revising the material that you have learnt.
Remember, the purpose of revision notes is to provide a reminder of the things you have learnt, not to have notes that teach you everything like it was the first time.