Part Four: Lecture note writing for easy revision

When I was in year 10 we started getting told to buy revision guides for the GCSE exams, so it was no surprise when my physics teacher told us about the “best revision guide ever” with examples, practice calculations (with hints) and core facts laid out in a way that we would all understand. Our whole class wanted to order one of these revision guides thinking this would be a clean ticket to a good grade… and then our teacher said “well you can all have one for free”. At this point I thought, wait, where’s the catch??! The teacher then said to get one of these guides you have to take good notes because our notes would be the revision guide.

That really hit me. So simple but so very important! I still used the revision guides that you could buy but when you get to Uni you won’t have  those CGP revision guides you could get at G.C.S.E and A-level as unfortunately university courses are often too specific to the university for these sorts of things to be made. If you’re lucky and do a common course such as law or medicine there may be text book which might as well be a revision guide with practically everything you need to know for an exam in it. The other ideal situation is where a tutor bases the course on a particular text book however this isn’t often the case- at least in my course it isn’t!

This means that the notes you take and are (sometimes) given are your most important reference.

So how to make this “best revision guide ever”? Well let me show you some hints and tips that I wish I knew at the start of my 4 year course!

1)      Write neatly… or at least legibly. You’re not writing things down for writings sake! You will need to be able to read what you have written possibly months later so it helps if the notes you make in your lectures are legible.

a)       If you’re doing an arts or humanities course and are good at typing I suggest you bring a laptop into your lectures because tutors can talk very fast.

b)      If you’re doing a science/engineering based course and there are maths examples, try to make sure you get all the parts of the equations written down along with a topic title so you can look up the method later

2)      If the lecturer is showing you an example using a particular method, it may be wise to think how the method is applied to the example and write that down instead of the example itself. Let’s say he is showing you how to do long division. Rather than copying the question and the answer you write down pointers to how he did it- there is nothing more frustrating than looking at examples you understood in class but when you look back you can’t remember how it was done!!!

3)      Highlight key words and make sure they are spelled correctly! This enables you to pick out the important stuff when you are scanning over the notes later. Coloured pens and use of capitals are also good

4)      Keep them organised. Write the date on the top of each page you use and number the page at the bottom.  Do this for the notes or screenprints they give you too. Heaven forbid you drop your file full of notes, but should you do this, at least it will be straightforward to putting them back in the right order! Try to file your notes as soon as possible so you don’t lose an odd sheet.

5)      Mark points that you didn’t understand, missed or didn’t finish writing down. I’ve seen some peoples notes where the whole page is full of unfinished sentences and question marks with no reference to go back and ask about. Make sure you know what it was you didn’t get, and sort it out asap. Ask a friend, lecturer or tutor but don’t just leave it!

6)      Use a digital recorder. If you have one that can leave indexes all the better as it allows you to place a marker at a key point/ at a piece you missed or didn’t have time to write down during the lecture. If your recording device (eg an iphone) doesn’t allow markers then just write the time down in the margin at the point where you’re getting lost or think it’s good to have a listen to a key point again later.  Don’t forget to replay the recordings at the points you need to go back to and fill in extra info.

Well I hope these points are useful and you try them out! Last but not least… there is no point having the best revision guide ever if you don’t use it- so don’t forget to use your notes to revise from and review them regularly!!

Happy note-taking!

If this section has been useful to you, why not look at some of the others?

Series One: University

Part One: Going to university, what to pack?!
Part Two: Beating Homesickness and Fresher Blues- coping on your own
Part Three: Food for University
Part Four: Lecture note writing for easy revision
Part Five: University Organisation
Part Six: Dyslexia at University

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Part One: Going to university, what to pack?!

This is the first in the series about university life. I base what I write on my experiences of living in halls and private housing while I’ve been doing my engineering degree for the last 4 years. I hope they help! If you have any questions just pop them in the comments and I’ll get back to you. 🙂 

What to take the bare minimum.

Remember that the room/ storage you get given will probably be a lot less than you are used to at home so you are unlikely to have room for everything! Plus when you’re at uni you are likely to accumulate things- even if it’s just notes, so you will need to have room in the car/ suitcase to take them back home with you at the end of the year!

Kitchen
label your stuff that way no one claims your things thinking they are theirs because they didn’t see what Mum unpacked for them!!

  • mixing bowl
  • wooden or silicon spoon, potato masher, spaghetti scoop (great for stews and all types of pasta etc)
  • saucepan (I tend to use my saucepan as a frying pan too as I’m only cooking for 1!) It’s handy to have 2 saucepans one for sauce the other for rice/pasta/potatoes.
  • Baking tray and roasting dish
  • Measuring jug
  • Sharp knife- I have a small one with a sheath and a larger one
  • Chopping board
  • cutlery (2 sets of knife, fork, spoon & teaspoon as minimum and spare teaspoons- no idea where they go to!)
  • a couple of plates, bowls, glasses and mugs
  • storage Tupperware type boxes with lids
  • kitchen foil and plastic wrap
  • can opener and  vegetable peeler
  • dish spongers with a scrubber on the back and dish soap!

You may also need a kettle/ toaster- see what uni provides and try to get in contact with future housemates through facebook pages for your halls to see what others are bringing! You don’t want to end up with 5 toasters!!!

For store cupboard ingredients and basics see my post “Food for University”.

Clothes

Your choice here, but here are some things to remember:

Take lots and lots of underwear. Seriously! Uni laundrettes are expensive and have large drums so it will take you a while to get enough stuff to fill it! Have enough clothes so you can do a darks wash and a lights wash to save having white t-shirts etc go funny shades of blue and pink.

Going out stuff- I’d not really gone on a night out before and took nothing for this type of occasion. A couple of dresses and a pair of heels (ladies) or smarter jeans/ trousers and a couple of nice shirts (gentlemen) would do!

Practical things- a proper waterproof coat and umbrella never go amiss in the UK! Warm socks and wellies are also a good option! Also warm jumpers can be useful if you have bad heating in your halls/ lecture rooms.
Flipflops for the showers are a good idea as well and don’t forget your towel!!!!

Miscellaneous

Take a tin of roses chocolates, or tub of biscuits- so useful to make friends with people with as they knock on your door to say hello to their new flatmate!

  • Cereal bars- great for when you’re in a rush to get out of the door!
  • Pens and paper. I have no idea why people forget these as I’m sure everyone knows you go to university to study and at some point these items will be useful?? Don’t forget these as it’s annoying to have just met someone on the first day of your course and already they are leaching off you for stationary!
     Having a diary is useful too as you will suddenly have a lot of dates times and places to remember as well as deadlines. I’m currently using a Filofax which I LOVE (see my posts on using a Filofax at uni) but I one had a Palgrave Student Planner which was fabulous.
  • If you have a bike take a motorcycle lock not a d-lock; d-locks are easy to take off even though they (university security/ police) normally recommend them! I’d also recommend a laptop lock. Great for keeping it safe in your room, but also for when you need a toilet break in the library!
  • Things to make your place a little homely- photos, posters (if your allowed), pot plant, your musical instrument etc.
  • Finally a bit of a random one… toilet paper. You do not want to arrive and have none of this handy as most local supermarkets will have sold out as all students seem to arrive with none!

What not to take… for example, expensive kitchen stuff- your new housemates will probably not respect it how you would like- it may get taken or broken. If you do have expensive stuff make sure you wash it up straight away and take it back to your room.

I also wouldn’t take expensive jewellery or things that have a large sentimental value to you for the same reason. Even if you do get some insurance with your room it probably won’t cover things like this.  Check to see what your parents household insurance covers- sometimes you can be lucky and it will cover your mobile phone etc.

Hope you find these pointers useful, have fun packing and I hope you check out some of the other parts in the series below as they become live!

Series One: University

Part One: Going to university, what to pack?!
Part Two: Beating Homesickness and Fresher Blues- coping on your own
Part Three: Food for University
Part Four: Lecture note writing for easy revision
Part Five: University Organisation
Part Six: Dyslexia at University

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January

January went so fast this year.
The first week was spent trying to do homework and sorting a few things out around the house before going back to uni for the new term.
The second week was spent celebrating my birthday first with friends then with my family and finally with my boyfriend on the weekend. That whole week back at uni was a bit of a blur and I didn’t managed to get my bag unpacked or much work done, which was a bit of a pain as the following Tuesday I had a deadline to meet!
After that first deadline of the term I spent the rest of the third week trying to get myself into the uni work life frame of mind and that was hard! I think I finally managed to get unpacked but work wise it was a bit of a failure because one of my group projects took a sudden (although anticipated) nose dive and so I couldn’t really concentrate on my assignments. Plus it snowed hard, and I wanted to spend my time looking out the window more than I did work! I decided not to worry about them and save them for the weekend when I thought I’d have more time for them, but that weekend came and passed and no assignments were finished.
The following week I finally managed to get my head and I worked every free minute I had so I could enjoy the weekend. I was supposed to be going home to help my boyfriend do the wallpapering, but unfortunately his friend’s car got stuck in the snow so I didn’t manage to get that done. I did make a huge lemon tray bake and also cooked the best lasagne I’ve ever made so he was still a happy boy despite the lack of wallpaper! As we finally had a new bed (so much better than the futon we were sleeping on) we spent a lot of time sitting in bed indulging in relaxation time! So much so when Sunday evening came around I really really didn’t want to go back to uni (when do I ever?) so I stayed an extra night and travelled back in the morning. Making that next week a short one.
On the Tuesday, two major (well they were major in effort, not so much in marks) assignments were handed in and I feel so much freer for it! All be it freer to work on the group projects that seemed to be falling around my ankles.
This last weekend I made another trip home, again in hope to do the living room wallpaper but again it didn’t get done! Getting a bit frustrated with that and the fella said that he would be able to get on with it more when I was gone because I wouldn’t be a hindrance anymore! I got a bit grumpy at him for saying that because in actual fact that weekend I had been trying my hardest to clean the house for him (no benefit to me because I won’t be there during the week!), get him new curtains and poles because he was complaining about the light at night in the bedroom (again doesn’t bother me), so that he could get on with his sorting out his car.
So hopefully with me not around this next week, he will do the wallpapering and painting of the living room?? Haha, I don’t hold out too much hope for that.
With being so far behind with the group work, and having a particularly busy week with extra tutorials and lectures because lecturers were unavailable last term I’ve resorted to making a timetable to try and get on top of my work, while still doing the ‘life’ things I need/want to do, such as writing thank you letters and going swimming! Hopefully February will be more productive and less rushed than January?

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Surprise! We bought a house!

So after all my writing in cryptic terms I can finally tell the news that has had me bursting at the seams for the last month.

It’s been exactly one month from the day we first saw the house on the internet at our anniversary dinner to the day we got conformation that we definitely have the house!

It’s a three bedroom house only 10 mins bike ride from my boyfriend’s work. We are very very lucky (being only 20 and 21!) and my only sad thought is that as I’m still at uni I cannot live there full time until I leave uni and get a job up in the north.

Still I get to spend my christmas holidays redecorating ‘my’ (our) first house- a dream I’ve had since I was little. I’m please that we get the keys at the start of my month break as I have an exam next week and I think I wouldn’t study well if we got the keys before that!

We announced it on facebook yesterday and it’s been lovely to see all our friends and family so excited for us! I will update my blog with household renovations as we do them so you all can see them too 🙂

I must go now because I have to revise for that exam of mine 😦 and I feel quite poorly tonight 😦 😦 so I need to get an earlyish night (much rather just go straight to bed but I’m feeling really guilty for not revising this weekend!!).

One final thing, my filofax hole punch came yesterday so have now managed to fit my dividers into my diary- will post on this another time! (see previous post on filofax here)

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Filofax

I kinda wanted a filofax for ages. They seemed like the ultimate organiser where you could mix up normal diary pages with notes and list pages without them all falling out on the floor if you held it the wrong way. But they are SO expensive and seemed a little too business like for me. Way out of my league.

So I made a diary with notes, to-dos and menu planners for each week and got it bound so the pages didnt fall out, but it just wasnt flexible enough for my needs as one week I might have loads of notes, but not really ‘to-do’s’ and might only be at uni for 4 days in that week so a menu planner wasnt useful.

So I took the plunge and bought a personal sized finsbury filofax in a lovely yellow. Digger yellow as I like to call it.

I bought it off amazon for a much reduced price (so felt I could justify it!).

I havent really done anything to it yet, as I haven’t got  a holepunch for it, but I did stick this little puffy crocodile on the front plastic page.

 

I did make these month dividers from an A4 pack, and bought these zip wallets to hold things like post it notes and paperclips.

Hopefully when I get around to buying a hole punch I will be able to add in the lists I have made on the computer! will be much more functional and it’s much cheaper to make your own rather than buy branded ones. Plus I can make them on coloured paper so I can colour code things! I look forward to updating you on my planner as it progresses!

 

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Slowly getting there… I think

So far this week has been unexpectantly stressful. When someone with great knowledge of how a particular system works tells you something, you expect that to be the case, and I tend to accept it. It’s been a bit heartbreaking the last few days as they come back to me saying “well actually you cant have what you were told before…. oh and you need to pay this even though we said you didn’t have to before… oh and even if you do you cant have what you are paying for if the situation X changes”.

If it wasn’t for the progress we have been making with the overall project I would have totally lost heart in all of it and backed out completely. Feels like I’m writing in cryptic code here! Hopefully all will be revealed in a weeks time.
The fella has been great and so understanding through it all, but I can tell he is getting stressed too. It’s been a very fast roller-coaster going on a steep (learning) curve. We are so lucky and blessed to have such kind hearted people around us to help!

Over the weekend just gone I made a couple of realisations a long the lines of something I’ve found to be more and more true as time has gone on. I strongly believe that things happen for a reason even if you don’t understand or like how it is currently.

The first realisation I made this weekend was that currently life isn’t anything like how I had in my ‘plan’- but that’s not to say that I wont end up at the same place in life, or that it is a bad thing that events timings haven’t gone to plan.

The second thing I realised was that if the “bad” things that happened around exam time in the spring this year had NOT happened, then there would be very little chance that I would be in the good situation I am in now. I couldn’t foresee that then, and it just reinforces the belief of mine that things do indeed happen for a reason. Almost as if some greater being had a plan that I was not party to, all along.

Funny old world.

I guess it means that there is no bad outcome of a situation if you choose it, because it will only lead you on to something you could not have experienced had you not been through that situation before.

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Post. Autumn brings good things….I hope!

I really aught to actually post the posts I write at the time they were written; normally they are relevant to a particular time and loose their meaning after that. I’ve missed out on about 6 or 7 posts so far because of this.

So far Uni this year actually hasn’t been too bad. I’m quite surprised  May of my friends are really struggling however as they have dissertations to do, which is something I’m lucky enough not to have to do until next year. I’m trying to learn of them so I have a better idea of time management for my project next year.

The only project I have (and the only piece of work to do other than studying for a test in a couple of weeks) is a group project and we haven’t really started yet. Slightly worrying as its now at the beginning of the 8th week of term out of a possible 11! Not very much I can do about that now though. 

I’m hoping that for the start of January ,when my current homemade diary runs out, I’m going to start using a filofax. I’ve got my eye on a yellow finsbury in the personal size. I wanted a yellow one and I wanted a zip (so it can double up as a purse). Problem is it is soooo expensive! I’ve seen some on Amazon for about 25% off RRP, but even so I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than £8 on a planner! I think I’m going to sleep on the idea for a few nights! I do like how customisable they are though.

In other news I’ve been lapping up every chance to enjoy autumn that I can before the miserable British winter starts. I’ve watched countless firework displays from my halls window, baked pumpkin shaped gingerbread cookies, dressed up for Halloween  created a autumnal window display in my halls window and  across my desk. I’ve kicked up the bright yellow, red, orange and brown dry leaves on my way to uni each day and started my preparation for a good Christmas.

Mainly this involves getting bits and bobs together to make Christmas presents (I’m an advocate of the more handmade the better), and buying the odd gift. But yesterday my mum and sister came up to Birmingham and together we watched a short but sweet Christmas parade and the switching on of the Christmas lights. 

I’m all for enjoying autumn for autumn but I also relish getting ready for holidays in advanced. I’m not talking about putting up the xmas decorations in august (I really hate that), but I do like the anticipation of good things to come.

Talking of good things to come (time for crossing every finger!), there might be a big move in my world towards being a “growned up” as I used to call it. I don’t want to jinx the process by exactly saying what it is, but I should be able to spill the beans in early December. Funnily enough my sister got a fortune cookie yesterday, (our family has a tendency to believe in such things after I got one that said there was to be a new addition to the family, and a week or so later we found out that I was going to have a sister!) which read “A half-solved problem will be entirely solved next month”. So let’s see if it comes true again!

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