3.6.1 Making summary sheets or cards

Andrew Northedge, in The Good Study Guide uses a diagram to illustrate this (reproduced as Figure 4). He notes that:

To boil the course down in this way, so as to extract its concentrated essences, is extremely valuable because it converts the broad themes and the detailed discussions of the course
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2.1 Finding out your key concerns

Each one of us has a different set of concerns about preparing for and taking exams. It is worth spending a little time reflecting on these concerns and identifying what your individual needs are, in order to set up good support strategies for yourself.

Activity 1


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1 Revision and exams

Most likely, you are reading this unit because you feel unsure about your ability to do yourself justice in exams. You may never have taken an exam and are wondering how to prepare yourself. It may have been a long time since you took an exam, and you feel a need to refresh your technique. You may be looking for reassurance and advice because you may have had a bad exam experience in the past. Whatever your reason, we hope that this unit will help.

This unit is a practical one, and we w
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Learning outcomes

This unit will:

  • help you to manage your time more effectively when you're revising and in the exam itself

  • help you to learn, or brush up on, revision and exam skills

  • offer reassurance to those of you who experience anxiety and stress at exam time.


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Introduction

Do you feel that sometimes you don't do yourself justice in exams? Perhaps you've never taken an exam and are wondering how to prepare yourself. It may have been a long time since you took an exam, and you feel a need to refresh your technique. You may be looking for reassurance and advice because you've had a bad exam experience in the past.

This unit aims to help you to improve your own revision and exam techniques and reassure others who experience anxiety and stress over exams.


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8.2 Preparing

Both activities in this phase - analysing the task and making a plan - are critically important when it comes to preparing for an exam. Start by gathering together everything you have been sent that relates to the exam or end-of-course assessment for your current course. Also collect any advice you have had in the past about exam preparation. But the really important thing at this stage is to try and obtain a specimen exam paper or any detailed instructions relating to your end-of-course asse
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5.2 Studying the materials

This is the period when you will be working on your course materials in preparation for the assignment. This may include working through written or electronic texts, any other associated reading or media components, possibly attending a tutorial, accessing any other information that you need and making notes or records of it. Some courses give you a lot of direct guidance on how to work through the course materials; others present you with a range of options and routes. Some courses, particul
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3.1 Introduction to applying your learning

In this part of the unit we invite you to apply some of the ideas we have introduced in a more structured way. One of the easiest ways to really understand learning how to learn as a process, rather than as a series of individual activities, is to apply it to a section of the course you are currently studying. Choose a section that is complete in itself - for example, a block of the course - and that leads to an assignment. We suggest that you read through the whole of this section and
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1.2 What do we mean by learning how to learn?

Activity 1

This activity will help you to explore what we mean by learning how to learn.

Think back to an example of study you have done in the past, or any fairly structured learning opportunity you remember. Focus on a particular ac
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Learning outcomes

The broad aim of this unit is to provide a framework for learning-based activities and reflective exercises. More specifically, it is designed to offer you the opportunity to:

  • think about and understand how you learn;

  • apply the ideas and activities in this unit to your own learning experiences;

  • learn how to become a reflective learner.


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7 Conclusion

Reading is a core activity in most courses of study. The purpose of it is to enable you to learn. But learning is not a passive process, you don't just let ideas wash over you. You have to make sense of them as you read and then use them to think with.

Key points


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5.1.6 Are the conclusions justified?

Though I was interested in the idea of treating high incomes as ‘pollution’, I did wonder whether taxing people to pay for the pollution caused by their rising incomes would work. In general though I was reasonably convinced by the conclusions Layard drew. On the other hand, if I was studying the subject more seriously, I might find that wider reading and further thought would make some of the conclusions seem less convincing.


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5.1.5 Is there an alternative school of thought?

I guessed that plenty of economists would disagree with Layard's point of view, if he is right that they have not used measures of happiness and have treated rises in real incomes as an unquestioned ‘good thing’. If I were studying this topic seriously, I would search for an article which tackled Layard's arguments from another perspective. When you encounter new ideas, it is useful to get more that one perspective on them, so that you can weigh one against the other.


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5.1.1 How much trust can I put in this text?

You would generally assume that any set texts for a are trustworthy. But when you find a text through your own research you need to run a few checks to assess the soundness of its content.

Who is the publisher?

If an article is from an academic journal, you can assume that its quality has been vetted by the journal's editors. Also if a book is published by a major academic publishing house, you would expect it to be ‘respectable’. And if it's a book from an academic ser
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4.5 When you get stuck

Sometimes as you read you will get stuck. When this happens, don't sit staring at the page; find a way to tackle the problem.

Reading requires you to ‘project’ meaning onto the words on the page.

When you are stuck it means that you have lost track of the argument and can no longer see what meaning to project. So, you have to find ways to reconstruct the argument in your mind. One way is to cast around for clues by looking elsewhere in the text.

You might look bac
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4.4.1 Engaging with the content

For example, when I read in paragraph 3 of Layard's article that ‘41 per cent of people in the top quarter of incomes are ‘very happy’’ I asked myself:

  • Why is ‘very happy’ in quotation marks?

  • Is 41 per cent about what I'd expect?

  • What is this telling me?

As soon as I thought about it, I realised that ‘very happy’ could be a response that people had ticked on a questionnaire. Perhaps th
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4.4 Questioning what you read

Another way to keep your mind active while you read is to ask yourself questions about what you are reading.


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4.3 Does writing on a book seem wrong?

Obviously you have to take into account whether you own the text you are studying and, if so, whether you intend to keep it. Does it seem extravagant to write on a book and make it unfit for selling on? How important to you is selling it? Is it really a saving? If a book is important, why not assume you
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4.2 Notes in the margins

It is easy, with underlining or highlighting, to find that you have switched to autopilot without noticing. The process becomes too passive and you follow the flow of the text without asking enough questions. Writing comments or questions in the margins is a way to keep yourself more actively engaged.


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4.1 Underlining and highlighting

To be able to make sense of what you are reading, you need to read actively. One method that can help is to use a pen.

Activity 2

Did you underline or highlight any words as you read the Layard article? If not, go back over the
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