top of page

Do’s & Don’t’s of Study Notes

Exams and tests make up a large part of the final grade in every course.

To cope with this reality, students must learn efficient and effective exam study skills.

Creating study notes is a must for exam preparation.

To create effective study notes,


  • review all of the course content, by scanning through your notebooks and textbooks. This will give you an “overview” of the content you need to cover.

  • using a notebook, binder, or cue cards, summarize the required material in your own writing. 

  • draw small pictures for some concepts.use headings and sub-titles to organize the material.

  • reduce long paragraphs and sentences into jot notes, in a way that makes sense to you.

  • note important details in tables, graphs, and diagrams.

  • use coloured highlighters and markers to emphasize key points, titles, and sub-titles.

  • keep your notes easy-to-read and visually pleasing.

  • ignore information that’s unimportant.

As you become a more experienced exam writer, you’ll figure out your preferred style, methods, and tools for your unique process.


  • copy out the material in your class notes and resources, word for word. This takes too long, and you’ll include unnecessary information! Copying is easy, but if you can put it into your own words, you will grasp the information.

  • rely only on the material teachers have given you. Find more information from other sources on the topic. By researching the internet and other sources, you will deepen your understanding of the topics.

Exam prep requires the creation of study notes. You can’t just read the material. When you write things down, it helps consolidate the information in your memory, more than if you simply read the material.

After you’ve made some concise, thorough notes…


  • Verbalize the material. Say it out loud to yourself, or to someone else!

  • Re-write the notes. Create an even more abridged version of the material.

  • Re-write the notes again. Make them more concise this time!

  • Review your notes as often as possible.

  • Find fractions of time in your life to review the material – time you would otherwise waste.

  • Find old tests, in order to practice using your knowledge in test format.

  • Gather keen classmates for a study group.

  • Plan your study schedule to block off time, a day or two before the exam:  take a breath, absorb the material in one final review, get rest, and exercise.

You will refine your study process as you move through school. In the beginning, be sure to give yourself more than enough time to master the course content and figure out your unique study style.

You’ve got this!

For more information about time management tools, check out this video.

To learn how to study for math, check out this blog post.


bottom of page