Want to improve your college study skills? Want to do better on tests?
Making cheat sheets can help.
Notice I said make and not use – – big difference.
Study your class notes as if you can take one 8 1/2 by 11 cheat sheet into the test. As you review the notes for the first time, write on that sheet the ideas, formulas, lists, and vocabulary that you’ll need to know to really do well on the test. Do it thoughtfully and make good choices. Think about what the professor emphasized and what she is most likely to put on the test. Remember, you have only one sheet and need to make the most of it.
In going through this process, what you’re really creating is not a cheat sheet, but something called “notes-notes.” It’s a concise list of the most important information that your professor has covered during the test period. It can be a tremendous tool to help you focus on the core concepts you’ll need to understand to ace the test. It’s also a way to get you to spend some time thinking about what the professor might emphasize- – what she spent most of her time covering in class will give you a pretty good clue here.
Your next step is to review your notes-notes several times. Memorize them. Make a commitment to know them inside and out. After you do, go back and re-review your notes and study the required reading material. You’ll be surprised at how quickly and well you can move through both. You already know the core concepts from your notes-notes! You’ll also tend to pick up more of the details given your familiarity with the subject matter.
So make cheat sheets. They can make a tremendous difference for you on exam day.