Am I taking too many notes?

Feb 2015
8
Wisconsin
#1
I'm doing a self study in AP world history. I'm working through the Barrons prep book and taking notes on the computer using the cornell method with bulletpoints. I'm taking a little less than about 1/2 a page of notes per 2 pages of textbook. Is that overdoing it? People always say to take notes only on key dates, leaders, and events so that I can memorize them, but the AP World History test is not about memorization at all. Which is probably why it's the hardest AP test :zany:
Thanks!
 
Feb 2013
4,282
Coastal Florida
#4
I'm doing a self study in AP world history. I'm working through the Barrons prep book and taking notes on the computer using the cornell method with bulletpoints. I'm taking a little less than about 1/2 a page of notes per 2 pages of textbook. Is that overdoing it? People always say to take notes only on key dates, leaders, and events so that I can memorize them, but the AP World History test is not about memorization at all. Which is probably why it's the hardest AP test :zany:
Thanks!
Doesn't it still consist of a large section of multiple-choice questions (facts you need to memorize) and then a couple of essays? You can probably get a test description on the College Board's website. As for how many notes you should take, I don't think there's a certain correct answer for everyone. Write down what you think you need to in order to memorize the material appropriately. And I'd take a practice test or two if I were you...especially to get the time management down with those essays. A lot of essay prep materials I've read suggest researching the material on the test and prepare some broad topics in advance that you can make a wide range of essays out of. That way, you'll have something in mind beforehand so you're not sitting there like a deer caught in the headlights for 20 minutes wasting your writing time while you try to think of something to say.

And check the back of the Barrons book...it may have a practice test or two... I don't know whether it does or not but I'd certainly check if I were you.
 
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Sep 2013
7,435
Ireland
#6
Oh it stands for advance placement class. At the end of the year you take an AP test. If you get a high enough score you can get college credit.
Oh I see..Ok, if you want to be a good historian, there are three things you have to do.

1. Make sure you know as much as possible about the topic your covering (details)

2. Interpret those details and form an argument

3. Be able to deliver your argument based on the details

Study techniques

1. Study in 25 min sessions and make sure you concentrate for that 25 mins

2. Make sure you understand what your reading..don't keep reading for the sake of it.

3. After a break recall what you read to yourself. If you can't recall what you've read, then you don't know it.

Good luck to you
 
Feb 2015
8
Wisconsin
#7
Thanks for all of the tips guys! I think I'll continue with my rate of note taking but I'll be sure to stop and look over my notes, because there's no point in taking notes if you're not going to use them. My Barrons book has a few multiple choice and 1 essay question after each chapter so I can do those for practice. They also have 2 full AP tests at the end (and there should be some more online) so I can use those. I think forming an argument is going to be the hardest part. Only 6.5% of test takers got 5's (highest score) on the test. Yikes! I'll just have to be sure that I can make comparisons and relate different cultures to each other.
Thanks again!
 
Sep 2013
7,435
Ireland
#8
Don't worry about making arguments yet...you can't do that unless you know the details of the topic...when you know your stuff, arguments will pop into your head. Lots of reading first, that's the key and understand what your reading.
 
Feb 2013
4,282
Coastal Florida
#9
Don't worry about making arguments yet...you can't do that unless you know the details of the topic...when you know your stuff, arguments will pop into your head. Lots of reading first, that's the key and understand what your reading.
Yes, without knowing the specific question, you can't really outline your essays yet. However, you can plan ahead quite a bit. For example, you can find the Course & Exam Description publication on the College Board's website. If you turn to page 109, they give you the specific criteria you will be graded on. For example, you get a point on the first essay if your written answer references all of the documents they provide as source material on the test (criteria #2 on the chart from page 111). In the example on the ensuing pages, they provide 10 different documents for you to reference in your answer to the essay question...make sure you mention all of them.

The second essay is described starting on page 119:

Part B: Continuity and Change-Over-Time Essay

This essay question deals specifically with analysis of continuities and changes over time and covers at least one of the periods in the concept outline. It can address, for example, any of the course themes, such as technology, trade, culture, migrations, or environment. There may also be some internal choice within the question, so that students are able to choose to draw their evidence from a case that they know better.

The continuity and change-over-time essay questions require students to demonstrate their mastery of this historical thinking skill. Moreover, students are expected to construct an argument that responds directly to the question; doing so should cause them to use several of the other historical thinking skills (argumentation, causation, contextualization, and synthesis).
I would suggest you consult the list of course themes on page 17:

Theme 1: Interaction Between Humans and the Environment
Theme 2: Development and Interaction of Cultures
Theme 3: State-Building, Expansion, and Conflict
Theme 4: Creation, Expansion, and Interaction of Economic Systems
Theme 5: Development and Transformation of Social Structures
Also, on page 23, they give a chart showing how the material on the test is spread across 6 historical periods with each period representing a broad topic & specified time period (ex. "Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies" & 600 BC to 600 AD for period #2). You might choose a single culture or historical paradigm from each of these periods and then make some notes from the material in the book that relates to each of the 5 course themes for each combination of culture/historical paradigm/historical period you preselect. That way, no matter what the specific question turns out to be, you already have a set of predetermined subjects from each time period and a broad pool of ideas to draw from in formulating your response. For example, I would pick ancient Greece or Rome for historical period #2 and then note examples from the material that illustrate each of the 5 course themes for that culture. For historical period #3, I might pick the Byzantines and, again, make notes about how the 5 themes relate to them. However, when you're making your notes relating to the course themes, also keep in mind the way they want you to flesh out your answer: "argumentation, causation, contextualization, and synthesis." You could probably draw from the notes you've already taken...or, better yet, tailor your note-taking to the description of what the test is going to ask you from the publication I've linked above. Then, all you have to do is take a subset of your pre-existing notes and put them together in a separate section dedicated to the preparation for each essay.
 
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Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,215
Albuquerque, NM
#10
The advice given by Eamonn and Dreamer is good. Follow it, and focus on becoming familiar with the sources your are likely needed to reference.

Your question re. what amount of notes to take is off kilter. Each individual and each topical class will have different needs. How fast do you learn? Some folks can hear a lecture and recall the salient points months later without any notes at all. If your course work is dealing with very specific knowledge like the physical sciences and mathematics you probably need a lot more notes. Names and dates are important, but unless you have some understanding of the context they are difficult to remember under test pressure.

In my experience, the students who take copious notes rarely do as well on exams. While the student is making notes, they aren't listening and thinking about what the instructor is saying. You may end up with wonderful notes on some minor issue and totally miss the important points. Notes, as mentioned above, are meant to help review the material just prior to examinations. If you have two or three inch thick binders of notes for the subject and only a few days for review, focusing on just the important stuff will be difficult. In the end those with massive notes never really get much value from them. If you do the work, pay attention to the lectures, read the materials carefully, and spend some time putting the material into a context that makes some sort of sense to you personally, you should do well. Know your subject, and the tests will take care of themselves. Cramming isn't a good thing usually, so keep it to the minimum.

If you develop good examination habits and strategies, that will help a lot. Study and review in the weeks prior to the exam, but don't wait until the last day or so. In the 24 hours before the examination, take some time off. No alcohol or drugs for at least 48 hours before exam. Take a walk, see a classic film, visit an art museum, or just lie on the couch listening to your favorite instrumental music (lyrics can be distracting). The purpose is to let your sub-conscious work uninterrupted on integrating what you've learned, so don't spend the time with boon companions or your sweetheart. The night before examination, go to bed early and visualize what kind of life you want to have five or ten years down the road. Get up early and wear clean nice clothes. Have a good nutritious breakfast, and arrive at the exam site about 15 minutes, to half an hour before the exam starts. Don't become distracted by talking or thinking about the material you'll be tested on. Have nothing in your pockets, but have whatever cash you can afford in your billfold. I mention these things because often exam techniques won't, and yet they have worked for many fine students in the past.

Take your time answering the questions, especially the complicated ones. Be sure you understand what is wanted, and stay on point. Be brief, but complete. Write good English on essays. If you are a talented and properly prepared student you will probably be one of the first to finish the exam. Review what you've done checking the details and correcting the obvious mistakes. Don't over think it. Turn in your blue book and go have a tall beer with that sweety you've been avoiding for the past week.

Good luck.
 
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