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Outlining for Examination Preparation

What is a Course outline?

A synthesis of the course: As taught by the professor, as discussed in the casebook, as augmented and explained by outside resources, and as understood by the student.

Who should create a course outline?

You! Creation of the outline is the process through which the student learns the material. Students often try to use outlines from other students, but this does not help them in the process of learning the material. The act of working the material through the creation of an outline is what benefits students.

When should I begin creating a course outline?

As soon as possible. Successful students start outlines before classes even begin. Most use the table of contents to create a skeletal outline and then fill in each section as the semester progresses.

How should you create a course outline?

There are endless ways to create course outlines. Utilizing the table of contents from the book is one way. Many students create a skeletal outline based on the table of contents and then fill in the information from each section as they go along during the semester. Other students wait until they have finished a chapter before creating the outline for that topic. No one way is perfect. Each student will have to figure out what works best for them.

What resources should I use when creating my course outline?

Use any resource that is available to you. As mentioned above, the table of contents is a great resource. The authors of books use chapter and section headings to distinguish topics and even elements. These headings will allow you to see the elements before you even get to the topic in your reading. The vast majority of the information contained in your outline should come from your assigned readings and class notes; however, supplements can fill in the void when it is difficult to understand a certain concept. If you do not understand a concept, schedule an appointment to meet with your Professor. Professors love to work with students when the students have difficulty with a particular topic.