Test prep fact: the smartest way to prepare is to take notes, notes and – you guessed it – more notes.  Your notes are your record of the topics that are particularly important to your lecturer. The better your notes are, the better you’ve captured and processed all of the information the professor has thrown at you.

At least that’s the theory … In practice, things tend to look very different: many students only realize the value of their notes shortly before an exam. But then it is too late –and the inevitable consequence is a long night of trying to piece together fragments of ideas and remembered classes.

So what’s stopping us from carefully making notes and organizing them well? Sometimes it’s simply life, forgetfulness or a lack of discipline. Your lecture notes then remain in your bag, or you inadvertently scrawl your to-do list, or your shopping list for the week on them.

Taking Notes for Better Test Prep

A more successful strategy would be to immediately file your lecture notes, storing them safely for future reference. This works best if they are stored digitally. But using a laptop in class is starting to be prohibited by certain professors (thanks everyone scrolling Facebook all semester). But it’s for the best. It’s actually better for students to write their notes by hand. And – bonus – with a pen and paper you can use other note taking methods like visual thinking, mind mapping or sketchnoting. You can’t do that with a laptop.

The best of both worlds: handwritten notes and a digital file

Bamboo smartpads are smart notebooks that let you write on your favorite paper and save your notes to your phone or the cloud. Students make notes by hand during lectures but then immediately upload them using the Wacom Inkspace app. And these digital files can then be:

  • Archived instantly by saving them in folders
  • Searched (even handwritten notes)
  • Edited if something else comes to mind or you want to highlight a few key sentences
  • Exported as text to email or share via Inkspace, Evernote and Dropbox
  • Searched for terms to rapidly reach the right place in your notes

It will then look something like this:

Considering the broader context

Your newly-created digital archive offers unprecedented opportunities. You can see the big picture of your classes thanks to your archive of notes. This may well lead to new perspectives, insights and ideas – that’s the whole point of college, right? That and proving that you can truly survive on Raisin Bran and Top Ramen.