Reviewing your lecture notes is a great way to keep on top of your coursework. It helps you fill in and organize information, aids in retention, and enables you to identify material you have questions about or need to investigate further. In addition to helping you study for exams, reviewing your notes can spark your interest in aspects of the lecture that you might want to pursue in a paper or research project, if the course requires
Review your notes as soon as possible after class. We recommend that you review your notes before the next class. Make time to at least read over your notes and fill in information from your memory that you weren’t able to record in class. That way your notes are complete. Studies show that our memories from lectures fade fast. This is called the forgetting curve. We can counter the forgetting curve by reviewing material. So, review after class and then reserve time at the end of each week to review, organize, and codify your notes in a way that best helps you study for exams.
Why You Should Review Lecture Notes
Reviewing your notes helps you in a variety of ways:
- While the lecture is still fresh in your mind, you can fill in lecture content that you did not have time to write down during the lecture.
- Also, you’ll be able to see what parts of the lecture were unclear to you so you can ask your instructor, the graduate assistant or a classmate, or consult your text or additional readings for further information.
- You can organize and format your notes in a way that works best for your learning preference.
- The more you review, the less you forget. You’ll do better on exams if you review regularly. And when it comes time to study, you just have to finish your review process rather than relearning the material. Review more, study less!
How to Review
Develop a review process that best fits your learning preferences.
In general, though, annotating and organizing is better than straight up recopying. The following suggestions for annotating may be helpful:
- Identify key terms, names, formulas, dates and concepts. Highlight/Mark the information differently (highlighting, circling, underlining, and using abbreviations or symbols to save writing time, emphasize key information and streamline your review process.
- Leave a column blank when you’re taking notes in class. When reviewing, use this space to expand, explain, or fill in information you don’t have time to write in class.
- Indicate the relevant pages in your text or other course materials that corresponds to the content of your notes.
- Make keys and summaries.
- Make connections between concepts and ideas from that day’s class or that week’s class to other classes in the current unit or others.