TheCruelOne

7+ Year Member
May 29, 2012
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Medical Student
Hi guys,

I'm about halfway through my MCAT studying, and my method so far has been to read through a given chapter and simultaneously take pretty thorough notes using Microsoft OneNote. My notes end up being helpful, however I don't think this method is very efficient at all. It takes me an absolutely ridiculous amount of hours to just get through one chapter and complete the notes, and even then, a lot of times I have to read through my notes again in order to be able to thoroughly understand what was stated in the chapter. This is mostly because as I'm reading the chapter, I find that I'm more concerned with "completing" my notes and I don't end up actually internalizing anything that I'm reading. I don't think I can really afford to study this way anymore, so I was wondering what method you all use. Would it be a better option to just read the chapter without taking notes and focus fully on understanding the content and then maybe going back and skimming so that I can take notes that are a little less dense with only essential amounts of information? I'm honestly not very sure how to approach this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
 
Aug 20, 2013
58
10
Status
Pre-Medical
here's what i do:

1.) write detailed notes on every chapter i read
2.) never look at them again lol

for me it's more of a way to pay attention, i hate reading my own handwriting for some reason and i feel like the book summarizes it better anyway.
 

QPOC1231

2+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2014
64
111
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
so I used to take madd notes. like pages and pages of notes for every chapter I would read. I think the notes made me feel like I was internalizing more and like you said really just wanted to "complete my notes".

I've been studying for about a month and a half now and recently I've completely stopped taking notes. instead, I read the chapter and then immediately do practice problems at the end of the chapter/ ek 1001/tpr sw on that topic to both internalize the content and get practice answering questions. It now doesn't take me hours to do one chapter, and i'm able to put more energy and focus into doing questions. I think, while writing notes may help with some absorption of material, a higher yield can be gotten by answering questions to reinforce content since that is what we'll be doing on the MCAT.

The only real "note-taking" like thing that I do is for questions I get wrong during practice passages/discretes. I just make flashcards about the topic/question that I missed and try to review my cards once a week. Beyond that I don't really write notes anymore.

I hope your studying has been going well and you're finding a way to write less notes and still study effectively. How much more content review do you have?
 
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ShadyLane

5+ Year Member
Oct 21, 2013
108
84
California
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I would read through my review books, underline stuff, and write in the margins to summarize things in my own words if it was a hard concept. That being said, don't fall into the trap of taking notes for the sake of having notes. You said it takes you forever to get through a chapter with your current method, so I would try taking less notes and see how that goes. Underlining can sometimes be useless, but it was useful for me if I could go back to sections I had read and find important lines easily.
 
Sep 2, 2014
168
167
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Medical Student (Accepted)
I learned pretty quick that note taking is just a time waster. You need to invest more time into thinking around concepts. My first week of studying, I took like 20+ pages of notes per chapter. I quickly fell behind because it was taking too much time. I transitioned into taking bullet point notes with just terms and cut down to like max 8 pages. That way, I could go back and look at my notes and think of what the term was. I think from here on out I'm just gong to make flashcards right away with conceptual questions and just make sure I cover the breadth of material rather than take specific notes.
 
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Dec 16, 2013
188
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
My note-taking consisted of writing my own transcripts from audio osmosis. Then I review the chapter in the EK book, review the AO notes, and then do some practice problems. Be careful not to waste too much time on strict content review, if you read this forum, you will see many who scored below their goal on the actual mcat, say that their biggest mistake was focusing too heavily on content review and not enough passage-based problems.
 

Gauss44

5+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2012
3,191
398
Status
Pre-Medical
I learned pretty quick that note taking is just a time waster. You need to invest more time into thinking around concepts. My first week of studying, I took like 20+ pages of notes per chapter. I quickly fell behind because it was taking too much time. I transitioned into taking bullet point notes with just terms and cut down to like max 8 pages. That way, I could go back and look at my notes and think of what the term was. I think from here on out I'm just gong to make flashcards right away with conceptual questions and just make sure I cover the breadth of material rather than take specific notes.
I agree that taking notes for the purpose of summarizing MCAT material is a time waster. You are better off buying Examkrackers, and using the bold print, diagrams, and end of chapter equation summaries as your "notes." Instead of taking pages and pages of notes, try keeping a list of problematic areas to later review, or make a flashcard.