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Study Skills

Yi’s Study Tips – Notetaking

If you’re at an IB school, chances are that you’ve been to a presentation from one of our amazing school presenters! All top IB grads, our school presenters travel round the world sharing their best tips and tricks for getting through the Diploma Programme. This week we're sharing Yi's study tips for effective note taking. 

Tip 1: Have a system! 

Yi’s biggest study tip for note taking is to have a system for how you take notes. It sounds simple, but knowing where to find certain pieces of information is essential to revision. Without a clear method for taking notes this can be very tricky! 

For Yi, handwriting notes worked really well because of the subjects that she took. Taking Biology HL meant that she was constantly using diagrams. These were much easier to draw in a notebook than on a Google Doc! 

Take some time to think about how you’re going to organise your notes. Are you going to have a notebook or Google Drive folder for each subject? Or maybe you’re someone who prefers the flexibility of a ring binder so that you can lay all your notes out in front of you when revising? 

It doesn’t matter which method you use, Yi points out that having a system in place reduces the chances of losing notes! 

Tip 2: Organise within your notes 

The second one of Yi's study tips with her notes was to ensure she used clear and relevant headings throughout her notes. She used to use a different colour pen to make them stand out. If you consistently use the same colour for headings, it will make it super easy to scan your notes quickly for a specific piece of information. 

She also used to use a different colour for any vocab words she knew she’d need to know. Again, this makes them much easier to find later on! 

To help stay organised, get into the habit of writing down the date at the top of the page when you start taking notes. It’s so easy to forget what order things go in when you come back to the notes before a test or an exam. 

Tip 3: Use your own words and draw your own diagrams

Yi always stresses the importance of using your own words in your notes. While copying down what’s in your textbook or your teacher’s powerpoints is easy, it really doesn’t help your understanding of the topic. It also increases the risk of plagiarism when you’re writing coursework. 

Instead, work on consistently phrasing issues and concepts in your own words and the way that makes the most sense to you. This will both improve your understanding of the concepts and help you remember them. 

For Yi, drawing her own diagrams was crucial to her success in biology. Drawing these diagrams herself meant that she really had to understand the processes and structures. It’s also a common thing to get asked to do on exams! Diagrams don’t have to be artistically beautiful - they just need to get the important details across. 

Tip 4: Summarise as you go and highlight conclusions!

Summarising the most important concepts is a really useful skill to have on exams. Yi points out that for most subjects you’ll need to be able to neatly summarise a large concept while including detailed information. 

Getting as much practice as possible with this will make it much easier. An easy way to incorporate this into your notes is to add a ‘conclusions’ section at the end of each topic.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to revise most effectively check out these previous posts. If you’re looking for more help with a specific topic, check out our online private tuition here. If you'd like to arrange for a presentation from our school presenters, get in touch with us here

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