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Organising your study notes

7 November 2019

It’s worth spending a little time getting your revision notes organised, says the Brand Financial Training team.

This post was originally published on the Brand Financial Training Blog at https://brandft.co.uk/organise-your-study-notes/ and has been reproduced here with their permission.  All content © Brand Financial Training.

Organising your study notes is hardly the most exciting of subjects. Equally, it never seems urgent, so it’s one of those things that’s all too easy to keep putting off. Read on to learn some ways to get those revision notes in order.

The reality is that organising your paperwork and digital folders properly can make a real and surprising difference to the speed and efficiency with which you progress your studies.

We appreciate it can sometimes seem hard to know where to begin. So, here are a few thoughts and suggestions to get you started. The good news is that once you get into a routine, filing and admin will become second nature, and you’ll do it automatically, without even thinking about it. This isn’t something you need to spend huge amounts of time or money on, either. Just a few minutes and perhaps a few pounds’ worth of stationery are all it takes.

Start as quickly as you can and you’ll soon be reaping the benefits, for example when you’re grappling with the next big deadline (while still juggling the day job…) or you need to revise in earnest for imminent exams.

Taking Notes

To state the extremely obvious, to have some notes to file, you need to take some in the first place! Even in this screen-bound age, you’re still likely to need to take at least some paper-based notes. Everyone will do this in their own way, but you should be able to quickly strike a balance – capturing the information you need without missing points or gathering unnecessary detail.

If your notes are all electronic, give your online folders an ordered structure without too many sub-folders. You can, of course, always print and file the paper versions.

For handwritten notes, one of those ruled A4 pads you may have used earlier in your academic career should do the job (or for better retention, you may consider plain paper). It means you can easily remove the pages each week and store them in the appropriate module folder. Equally, even if you are working on separate topics simultaneously, you can still write everything in one book. Just write the relevant module details in the top right-hand corner for easy identification.

You may want to type up initial handwritten notes and add to them for your own records – again, print out and file. And, even with typewritten notes, it’s worth giving each page a header and footer with module details.

If you prefer and are happy to carry them around when you’re out and about (and indeed if you have shelf space for them at home), you might find it easier to have a separate notebook for each topic or module if that makes you feel more organised.

One Module, One Folder

Clearly, storing loose notes in random spots all over the place is not helpful. For every module you follow, have a separate A4 ring binder and mark off each section with a suitably labelled divider.

Despite your best tree-saving intentions, you’re likely to build up quite a bit of paper while studying for professional qualifications, so divide your folder into areas for your syllabus, study materials, notes, practice papers and so on. It’s also worth starting and regularly updating a contents page for each section, and including key dates and times for deadlines, exams etc. so you always have those readily to hand.

Temporary Filing

If you’re retreating to a café or library to study for exams and you prefer not to carry your main module folder around with you, simply take any paperwork you need from the requisite folder, and put it in a small plastic envelope file. Upon returning home, just refile, along with any other papers you’ve acquired meanwhile, and empty out the envelope folder so everything’s in one place again.

We’re not suggesting you spend all day every day organising your folders, but a few minutes spent every week with a proper system in place will be a wise investment of your time. Happy organising!