philly napkinPart four of 5 Easy Review Tricks series — See the other parts at the bottom of this post.

4. Draw it out. If you aren’t taking a pencil and making your own charts, graphs, illustrations, diagrams, mind maps, topical doodles, etc. then you are losing out on one of the best mastery techniques there is.

Most students only draw in their notes what the professor draws on the board or shows in her PowerPoint.  For shame. Copying down what you see before you will help recall, but it’s nowhere near as powerful as coming up with your own illustration. Recall from earlier posts, the most powerful way to recall info is to use elaboration–doing something with the info. So do something with the info–illustrate it.

“But I ain’t a good drawrer,” you protest. Pshah! You don’t need to be. These pictures aren’t for anyone but yourself. Use stick figures, basic geometric shapes, and labels. You’ll be fine. For an in-depth how-to, take a look at The Back of the Napkin, by Dan Roam. My own review of the book ended up at, “not worth buying, but definitely worth looking through.” You may decide to buy … more power to ya. BONUS: Most of us recall images much more easily than words.

Take a look at these examples. Note that we ain’t talking Mona Lisa here; legible is all we are going for. The one from the NASA engineer led to a tremendous breakthrough in the aerospace field.

nasa napkin

girl napkin




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