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Summarizing is demanded of you right away when you start your education. You must quickly and easily condense information so that it's effective and understandable. The reason for summarizing being such a highly-regarded skill is that it's a lot harder than it sounds to get down what you need - and only what you need - in a limited space of time. Alas, it is possible to do - providing you know how to go about it and what techniques to use, of course.
Many current students don't see the point in the note taking and quick summarizing of large sets of information. Despite this opinion, the benefits of using this skill well and truly outweigh the negatives. Making a summary makes your revision easier - you have concise lists of facts, figures and statements that are far easier to leaf through than a heavy revision guide. It also keeps you focused on what you're learning, be you in a lecture or taking notes form a book. It really is a worthwhile process that will ultimately make things easier for you - providing you know how to do it properly.
The first thing you must decide upon before summarizing is how you will present the information. Try what works best for you, and ensure it is efficient enough to use under strict time conditions.
Some have a preference for mind maps, others for simple illustrations and bulleted or numbered lists. Whatever you find helps you the most - use it, and don't be afraid to do this just because it might not be the conventional procedure.
After you've made this instrumental decision, it's time to actually start with your note taking. It's here that most people stumble; they find it an impossible challenge to take down so much information and put it into an accessible, effective form with little time at their disposal. Bearing this in mind, the most important step to take when quick summarizing is to carefully pick out key words and phrases that you absolutely need. Avoid jotting down unnecessary information, and resort instead to getting an in-depth record of the precise concepts, theories, quotes and supportive evidence relating to the matter.
To further condense your summaries and make less work for yourself, use abbreviations and symbols instead of full words. Popular examples of this include the equals sign (=), the times sign (x), and the greater/smaller than signs (>). Drop letters from words that you can't represent in symbol form, shortening 'very' to 'v.', and 'especially' to 'esp.', for example. Remember: your notes won't be marked, so as long as you can understand them, it doesn't matter how much sense others make of them. To enhance the most important points, you could even use highlighters, coloured pens, and illustrations - but not ones that take to long to create, as this wastes valuable time.
Summarizing notes really is effective, and by using these techniques, you shouldn't face too much of a difficulty when it comes to condensing information at pace. Ask your tutor for further details on what it is you need to be taking a note of, and how to take this down in the most effective manner.
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