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How to write great revision notes

note taking

I must admit I struggled when I started to write this blog post. Primarily because when I was a student my revision notes were terrible. I struggled to be able condense the information down into a usable form. It was so bad that often my revision notes were really just chapter summaries and not really much of a summary either. I didn’t know what to leave out and what to include. I believed my problem was one that I alone had but since starting tutoring other students I have found I was not alone.

So how did I go from writing terrible revision notes to be able to write a blog post about great revision notes?

It was when I studying for my CPA. What you need to understand is that exams for a CPA qualification are all open book. This means that you can bring in revision notes as well as your CPA text book for the semester to use during the exam. It also means that your revision notes need to be really good to be effective. Instead of trying to cover every topic that you might possibly face, your revision notes just need to be able to point you to the right point in your text book. That made it easier for me to eliminate what I didn’t need and use it as a framework of the important topics and be able to point me where I needed to go to look up some information.

Also, I used it as decision-making framework using workflows that would shorten the process. One example of this in introductory accounting you need to be able to identify account types, natures to determine and item is a debit or credit. By developing it into a simple workflow it eliminated the need to write a lot of text and made using my revision notes easier. This principle can be used for any accounting unit – from introductory account to tax law and to everything in between.

I also developed a principle if I had to use more than a paragraph on a topic, I really hadn’t summarised it properly. I also determine that I could go through my entire collection of revision notes in less than 10 minutes. Any more and it was going to take too long to use which makes the revision notes meaningless.

Writing great revision notes need not be hard. Remember their purpose is to remind you of information, not to list all the information that you learned during the academic year.

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