The Apache Pow Wow

Try a Mindmap!

Emma Chen, Staff Writer

Let’s face it: when we’re frantically cramming for that unit test coming up, it’s hard to avoid trying to read all the chapters in one sitting or “take notes”, which usually means copying the book word for word. Want to know the best way to study for your quizzes and tests? Try a mind map!

A mind map is essentially a way to track your note-taking and thoughts. The main concept like the name of the chapter, for example, would go in the center with a circle around it. Main topics of the chapter would surround the circle. From there, as you move through the chapter, you’ll add mini bubbles and notes around each sub point. By the time you’re done, your mind map should look like circles of notes, highlighting the main points to remember for each chapter.

This method of studying is effective and efficient. Mind maps force you to only pick the most important things to write down, thereby preventing you from copying down unnecessary information. In order to identify the major points, you have to thoroughly read the text and clearly understand it. This way, you’re paying attention to the reading and working through the process of figuring out what you should know for the test and what’s not really needed. Mr. Gerry Wang, an AP U.S. History teacher at AHS says, “It’s a visual aid that isolates concepts so your brain perceives them singularly—hence the ovals—then your eyes connect the concept(s) together and your mind bridges the gap. Much of the learning for mind maps takes place in the process of their creation. Is it a pain to do? Yes. Does it pay off if you buy into the process? Yes.”

After finishing your mind map, you should use it for the days leading up to your test. Start with the main circle in the middle and work your way out. Follow the circles you drew, and make sure you completely understand every concept you wrote down. If not, go back to the textbook, reread, and add to your notes so that you can confidently say that you comprehend the information. Mrs. Heather Moore, another AP U.S. History teacher at AHS says, “Students have to draw connections between ideas and explain how they are connected. The nice thing about mind maps is that one can see just how inter-tangled and messy life can be.”

I recommend keeping page numbers next to topics you’re not so sure about so that you can easily flip to that page in the textbook when you need a quick refresher. Also, I find that switching between different colored pens to differentiate vocabulary terms, titles of concepts, and quick reminders help organize my thoughts and patterns while studying. Finally, my last tip for you is to make your mind map aesthetically pleasing! Yes, when you’re trying to cram as much information into your brain as you can, how pretty your mind map looks can seem kind of stupid. Still, I guarantee that if you put just a little more effort into making your map good-looking, you will be way more inclined to study and will absorb the information more effectively.

Sitting through long hours of study is hard enough as it is, but at the very least, mind maps should make the time pass by quicker. They’re a great way to study fast and can be way more interesting than your average bullet points. Give this one a try!

Graphic courtesy of CANNYPIC.COM

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