how to take great notes and pass a really hard class with flying colors.

The last few weeks of summer have been spent with me working and trying to enjoy my time away from the books before Fall semester aka my last semester begins.

I successfully completed my Anatomy & Physiology I class with an A. (Which I couldn’t be prouder, since this was a retake to bring my grade up from a D.)

During this 8-weeks crash course, I developed a few strategies which I would like to share. Some of these are no secret. But, just helpful tips for anyone taking a difficult course. I am an auditory and visual learner. Auditory to the degree I can remember weird inflections in voices that help me remember information. I like to doodle, so I claim the visual learner title as well. Maybe, I am just weird, and this is way more information anyone needs to know before they read my tips. Okay, I’ll cut to the chase.

Tip #1- Read the text.

Yeah, that’s no secret. This semester I discovered my tolerance level to classmates that ask me questions or straight up ask for answers and they have not read the text or even opened their book for that matter. One girl even said, “I can’t find the answer and I didn’t want to read through 400 slides to find it.” I’m not going to lie, I somehow made my made through high school and most of my marketing/communications degree without reading many textbooks. But, for a complicated subject, reading the material (prior to class) is key. This is even more important during a shortened semester. Instructors expect you to be prepared before class, and quite honestly, it’s frustrating for them, as well as your classmates, when you ask questions which clearly tells you didn’t read any of the material.

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Tip #2- Take notes.

When following Tip #1, take notes while you’re reading. I found it very useful to use 2 pens (one black and one blue) and 2 highlighters (I use blue and green). While reading on my own, I take notes in black ink and highlight in green. During lecture and lab, I would only take notes in blue ink and highlight in blue. For me, this helped me remember things that were discussed in class as opposed to on my own. This also helped with clarifying topics. For instance, there was a typo in our textbook which stated the chemical formula for glucose was C6H12O2 instead of C6H12O6. I brought this typo up in lecture and marked this in blue ink. For me, it helped to know this was corrected and addressed by the professor, so I should remember it now. I also used the same method when correcting my test.

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20150711_144544Tip #3- Read your notes!!!

Notes are your condensed version of the main points and topics in the text. Read them! Review them!!!

Tip #4- Go to office hours, study groups, and labs.

Your tuition essentially funds lab tutors/mentors, office hours, and materials. GO TO THEM!!! I learned so much more than I needed to know for A&PI by going to our campus’ science lab. Each time I went, I had a one-on-one tutor helping me with the material, they even prepared me for topics before we went over them in my lecture. You’re already paying for these services, so go!

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Tip #5- Communicate with your instructor.

Do not wait until the end of the semester when your grade is at stake. Come a few minutes early to class, stay a few minutes late. Ask questions, even if you know the answer. Email them when you have questions or concerns. On every test day, I got to campus at least an hour early to review. I was the only person there, but my instructor saw me every test day waiting in the hallway studying. Not saying this is why I passed this class, but instructors see students taking initiative.

Have a great semester!

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