Express your Gratitude for Passing Important Exams

OK – I have to confess to a little known secret that most people do not know about. While I am a real life techie, I also know a lot about insurance.  I have worked for insurance companies ever since I graduated college. And once I started at an insurance company, I decided that I would learn all about it. Some say I went overboard. In fact, I have earned the following designations: CPCU, ASLI, ARe, AIC, AMIM, AIT in addition to a B.S. and an MBA. Whew! That is a lot of tests that I have taken (as an example, CPCU required me to pass 10 exams!) I express my gratitude all the time for the ability to continually learn and develop myself.

Gratitude-Study-TipsWith the economy the way it is, a lot of people are engaged in continuing their education. Chances are, you might be one of them! This makes exam prep very important, whether it’s career-related or strictly academic. I also teach at a community college – technical programming courses. This is also good advice for college students!

Here is the big secret: To pass your tests, learn how to take notes and study effectively from them.  Simple, huh?! Let’s break this down…

Preparing to Take Notes

1.    Why are you there? You first need to understand the purpose of your coursework. Feeling motivated is crucial to paying attention and taking comprehensive notes. Remind yourself of your goals to excel in school or advance in your career.? Think “Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude” as you embark on your studies. After all, you are there for a reason! Be grateful for it!
2.    Pay Attention and Listen! Listen actively. Sit where you can hear and see the instructor with minimal distractions. Take advantage of pauses in the presentation to mentally review the content. Ask questions to improve your understanding.? When you ask questions, you force yourself to concentrate and review the material immediately.
3.    Make sure you have the right supplies that you need. Most people benefit from keeping separate notebooks or binder sections for each subject. Keep back-up pens handy. Use different colored pens and highlighters to help organize the material.? I use a pencil and a pen to track different things in different notebooks/journals.

Taking Notes During Classes and Presentations

1.    Listen for what is important. Can you tell what the main points are? Notes usually seek to summarize the most important information rather than transcribing every word. Keep up with assigned readings or brief yourself on the presenter’s background to know what themes to expect.
2.    Write down key information. Jot down anything that gets written on the blackboard. Be sure to record statements that are repeated and emphasized. Ask for printouts of PowerPoint slides.? Save your time and concentration – if you can get the presentation, you won’t be scrambling trying to write down everything.
3.    Try the Cornell method. A professor at Cornell University invented this popular method: Divide your page into two columns with key concepts on the left and supporting facts and ideas on the right. Check out the Wikipedia for more detailed information about this method.
4.    Use standard abbreviations or invent your own. Uniform abbreviations enable you to write and review your notes faster. Use standard substitutions like “C” for century, or invent your own.
5.    Call attention to important items. Make critical information stand out with color highlighting, underscoring or asterisks. Indenting can also emphasize important points and help format your notes.
6.    Leave plenty of blank space. Write on one side of the page only and leave lots of white space. You may need to go back and add more information or rewrite something you misunderstood the first time.

By using these tips while listening to a lecture, you can capture the important aspects and be in a better position to study. Once you pass your exam, you will be expressing your gratitude more than you can imagine!

Be Well.
The Gratitude Guru


  1. Melissa on April 6, 2011 at 9:14 am

    WOW! No wonder you are the most popular guy at family parties, everyone is trying to learn from you. Maybe that’s why you hid in the trunk last Thanksgiving. Paulie, you can run but you can’t hide from us. Congratulations on your perseverance, we love you.

  2. Laurence Hansen on April 6, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I am a life-long learner, mostly self-taught. I do most of my learning at the computer and from books I buy for my library. I have finally opened myself up to writing in my books and I find that I am getting more out of them by more actively engaging with them.

    At the computer I use a mind mapping program for gathering notes and links back to online sources in a graphical manner. (I won’t name the program because I am not thrilled with it and am looking for something that does a better job.)

    I am going to take a good look at the Cornell method. It one time, when I attended a lot of lectures, I used a hard-bound journal that would lie flat. I wrote primary notes on the right-hand pages and supporting information on the left-hand page. I may go back to that approach.

    Thanks for spurring my thinking about note-taking.

  3. Dawn on April 7, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Great tips! I decided at 50 years old to go back to school for Correctional Services. I am now addicted to learning and want to go for my Masters in Criminal justice. I love mind mapping! Caroline Leaf has a great book called who switched off my brain. She talks about mind mapping and other great techniques. I find it helpful to use different colored pens while mind mapping. It keeps me from getting bored, and helps me to concentrate. My dad has been my inspiration that your never to old to learn. He is 85 and writes for 5 different papers. He is amazing! I figure if he can do it, so can I!

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