Why Regularly Reviewing Notes Beats Reviewing Only for Exams

student reviewing notes

To perform well on exams, students should develop effective study habits. Among the most crucial habits is regularly reviewing notes. This means going over the information learned in class or from other sources. By reviewing notes frequently, students can improve their academic and test performance compared to only reviewing them once before an exam. In this essay, I’ll explain why regularly reviewing notes is better than reviewing them only once, based on evidence from multiple studies.

Reviewing Notes Moves Concepts from Short-term to Long-term Memory

A key perk of reviewing notes consistently is that it helps students transfer fresh knowledge and skills from their short-term to long-term memory. Zuckerman, an authority in the field, has explained that classroom testing has traditionally been viewed solely as an assessment tool. But, as it turns out, testing is also a stellar technique for bolstering learning and retention. This is called the testing effect, which means that frequent testing is more conducive to long-term memory compared to repeated reviewing. When students regularly review their notes, it’s like a form of self-testing. They’re basically retrieving the information from their memory and verifying their understanding. This builds stronger memory pathways and makes the info less likely to fade away.

Aids Organization of Information in a Meaningful Way

Another boon of frequently reviewing notes is that it aids students in organizing and synthesizing info in a more coherent fashion. The expert, Kiewra, has explained that notetaking is a multifaceted cognitive activity that often leaves students with insufficient or flawed notes. Hence, regular note reviews can be a game-changer, allowing students to enrich their notes with missing info, correct mistakes, emphasize key points, and create links between different topics. This fosters a deeper understanding of the material and enables students to brace themselves for challenging questions that require analysis and inference.

Makes it Unnecessary to Cram Notes

One final benefit of regularly reviewing notes is that it saves students from cramming and minimizes exam stress. The Princeton Review confirms that regular note reviews help students extract the maximum value from their notes, particularly if they craft sample test questions or flashcards from them. This approach assists students in gauging their progress, pinpointing their strengths and weaknesses, and thereby streamlining their study plan. By reviewing notes regularly, students can steer clear of the need to cram all the info at once before the exam. This method can be overwhelming and unproductive, to say the least. Instead, by going over the material in smaller portions over time, students can bolster their confidence and motivation, setting themselves up for success.


In conclusion, reviewing notes regularly is better than reviewing them once before the exam, because it helps students to transfer new knowledge and skills from short-term to long-term memory, organize and synthesize the information in a meaningful way, and avoid cramming and reduce stress before the exam. These benefits can lead to better academic and test performance for students who want to ace their exams.


Zuckerman, K. L. (2016). An investigation of note-taking and review on test performance. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8QZ2GPQ

Kiewra, K. A. (1985). Investigating notetaking and review: A depth of processing alternative. Educational Psychologist, 20(1), 23-32.

Kobayashi, K. (2006). Combined effects of note-taking/reviewing on learning and the enhancement through interventions: A meta-analytic review. Educational Psychology, 26(3), 459-477.

The Princeton Review. (n.d.). How taking better notes can boost your GPA. Retrieved from https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/taking-notes-in-class

Medium. (n.d.). Ace your exams: 10 powerful tips for successful revision. Retrieved from https://medium.com/illumination/ace-your-exams-10-powerful-tips-for-successful-revision-ce4535380fd

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