Cheat Sheets: The Legal Kind

Even though you would never act on the idea, the idea of cheating has probably crossed your mind at some point. You know grades are important, so on a tough exam…a cheat sheet sure could come in handy. And who would ever know?

Well you can forget about cheating—as you know, it’s just plain stupid—but the cheat sheet, that’s another story. Making a cheat sheet might just be the secret for finding that elusive A. That’s right, you can make a cheat sheet—just don’t use it.


If you were making a cheat sheet, you’d record all the important concepts, the cryptic formulas, the obscure facts and the key vocabulary. You’d write them all down in an organized way to make them easy to find.


Well guess what? This is also a great way to study. What you’re doing is creating notes-notes (sounds better than a cheat sheet!). Notes-notes are literally condensed notes from your class notes, capturing the most likely test material from the entire course on one sheet of paper. Using this single sheet of notes-notes to review essential material is much more efficient than studying strictly from a binder full of messy notes and handouts. And the act of going through your class notes to find the most important material will help you commit a lot of it to memory.


Condensing your notes also helps you see where your weak spots are—if you can’t capture a key subject in a few words, you know you need to review or get some help. Notes-notes are also the ultimate last minute refresher; study them for five minutes before the exam starts and get the benefit of hours of preparation.


Work with your notes-notes long enough and you won’t have any need for a cheat sheet. Remember, cheaters never prosper, but people who make cheat sheets—and never use them—will. With notes-notes, you are on your way to college success!

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