How To Turn Your Revision Notes Into Essay & Presentation Materials?

Exam time is almost here, and this often means having to write essays and prepare for in-class presentations. Finding effective strategies to transform your notes into essay and presentation materials is vital to success.

Below, we’ll cover some helpful study hacks that allow you to maximise your time and improve your performance when it comes to essay writing and giving presentations for your course. From categorising your notes to using handy tools for formatting raw notes into more manageable slices of information and everything in between, these tips will empower you to reach new academic heights.

Work smarter with formatting tech tools

To streamline your workflow, use tools that feature tags, highlighting and search capabilities. Use them to organise your revision notes with headings and bullet points that signify topics and subtopics. You can also take advantage of features like coloured highlights to mark important information. A good formatting tool helps you synthesise your notes into a way that’s useful for essays and presentations.

It’s also important to organise your notes in a format that’s easy for you to access and understand. In many cases, this involves using a Word to PDF converter to compile your notes as PDFs, which can be accessed using any device and are incredibly easy to print out if you prefer to read from physical sheets of paper.

Use the ‘Cornell Method’ for writing your notes

Taking notes can often be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a consistent strategy. Deciding what to include and how to write it down is difficult if you don’t have a note-taking process that can be applied in any situation.

Luckily, there are many note-taking methods that can help, and the ‘Cornell Method’ is one of the very best. This note-taking strategy helps you take more concise notes by providing a template that limits the amount of space available to you, meaning you’re more sparing with your note-taking and will only write the essential stuff and subconsciously remove clutter.

The Cornell Method template also includes a margin in which you can identify key themes, messages and ideas. This template also allows you to synthesise your notes by providing a large space at the bottom of the page to write summarising sentences, which is a lifesaver when using your notes to write an essay or prepare for a class presentation. In some cases, you may even be able to use these summarising sentences in your essays and presentations, ensuring that your essay preparation begins well in advance of your finals!

Find narratives in your notes

Narratives are extremely appealing to the human brain, which is partly why fiction is so popular. When turning your notes into materials for an essay or presentation, it can be helpful to create a cohesive narrative out of them.

In order to build an effective narrative out of your notes, it’s important to choose a storytelling method and stick to its principles. For instance, you might choose to present your notes as a non-linear story, an anecdote, a symbolic story and more. Making a story out of your notes helps you see how separate ideas logically relate to each other.

Obviously, you want to build narratives out of your notes after, not during, the note-taking process. Trying to tell a story while taking notes from a lecture will probably distract you from the lecture itself and cause you to miss key points.

Stay consistent with organising your notes 

When compiling research for a paper or presentation, you’re usually dealing with lots of seemingly disparate bits of information from a wide variety of sources. For instance, you’ll be taking notes from lectures, academic papers, online videos and more. To avoid being overwhelmed by all this information, it’s important to organise your notes using a consistent format.

What a note-taking format looks like will differ from person to person. You might want to create subheadings under which you group notes relating to a single main idea. Another approach is to organise your notes in terms of the sources from which you find them. Having a consistent format helps you categorise your notes and turn them into materials that can be used in papers and presentations.

What matters is that you choose a method that works for you and that you stick with it consistently.

Retain insights from your notes for exam revision

When using notes that were previously used for exam revision as materials for papers and presentations, it helps to have a broad understanding of said notes. This will probably come as the natural result of poring over your study materials in preparation for your exam, but it still helps to make a conscious effort to retain information while studying for a test.

There are several ways you can do this. One would be to use active recall instead of simply doing your best to commit facts to memory. Ask a friend to quiz you on your notes as many times as it takes for you to remember important details. You can also use strategies like physical or digital flashcards, mind-mapping and spaced repetition to help commit your notes to memory.

Of course, you’re not expected to remember each and every word of your exam notes. It’s enough to have an intuitive grasp of broad ideas, as this makes it easier to find specific details when you need them.

Keep evaluating and adapting your note-taking strategies

Note-taking is a skill and, like any other skill, it can be improved over time. Keep a mindset of constant improvement when taking notes and transforming them into a format that can be used in essays and presentations.

This involves figuring out your personal note-taking and learning style through trial and error. For example, test different ways of organising your notes and stick to what’s most helpful. Everyone’s brain works in a unique way, and there’s no single method of note-taking that works for each individual and in every situation.

A practical way of determining your personal style is to do so based on results. If you find yourself getting better grades on some essays or presentations than others, try to recall how you went about compiling your notes for them. Then, apply these strategies to future papers and presentations.

Taking notes is a part of every student’s life. Learning how to turn your revision notes into materials that can be used in essays and presentations is an essential skill that saves you time and leads to better academic results.

Whether you’re compiling notes for an essay or a presentation, it’s important to find what works for you and stick to it. In this article, we’ve gone over some guidelines on how best to do this. Start applying them today to create effective essay and presentation materials out of your revision notes.

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