Author: Ian McAllister
Trees and what not to study
the top half of a line of lower-case print (or the lower half) you can still read it, which is not the case with upper-case letters. So do what you find best!
No two trees will be identical. My brother’s version is more artistic, because he is an artist. But it is what suits you that is important. I was planning the chapter. My brother was describing the chapter. The two requirements are different.
The descriptive version has little sketches that would be great for memorizing the tree. If you can make cartoons, by all means do so. It will help your memory.
To make a tree to help you to plan an essay, put the title in the middle of the page. As topics come to you, jot them down using only key words. One topic will often remind you of a related topic, which will obviously go on the same branch of the tree. Or it can go anywhere else, and you can draw a link between items later.
Ideas will come to you in a disorganized manner and you simply place them in the appropriate part of your developing tree. When you think that two branches (or roots) are related, show it with a linking arrow, which may point more than one way.
Remember your tree is best for you, don’t accept someone else’s organization. When you have completed the tree you will have an organized overview of the subject. You can then add numbers to show the order in which you will use the keywords to write an essay, or to remember, or to explain to other people.
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A lecturer talks in what seems to him to be an organized manner, because he has his own mental overview. But you don’t have his overview, so you have to build one. If you can possibly manage to find out the topic of a lecture before hand, start building your tree then.
Place the title in the centre, then guess what branches you would expect to be covered. For example, if the subject of the lecture will be “Iron” you might expect branches labelled “What is it?”, “Properties”, “Mining”, “Uses”, “Value”.
Draw in the expected branches, then if you have time skim quickly through an account of the subject, preferably on the Internet or in a “popular” publication. Don’t forget that a “popular” publication may contain lies to make it more interesting. As long as your lecturer can’t prove that they are lies, you can still use them (with care).
When you go into the lecture you will have a rudimentary overall picture to work from. The lecture will not seem to be a jumble of unconnected facts. You will be able to ask intelligent questions.
If you can’t discover the title beforehand then start your tree at the beginning of the lecture. If the lecturer does not give a title, ask for it. Explain… “It would help me to organize my notes”. The lecturer wants you to do well in the exams, because it makes him look good, so he will be eager to help out.
I often get my best information when talking with my friends, workmates, or classmates. If you have already started a suitable tree you can visualize where the new information fits in. Mark it in when you get back to your notes.
If you are researching the subject, you will already have started your tree before you look through the library or Internet. Mark in each bit of new information.
If you have been told to study a book, then don’t make the mistake of starting at the beginning. It is inefficient, see chapter 16.