Survey the materials provided to you-- scan the contents, introduction, chapter introductions and chapter summaries to pick up a shallow overview of the text. Form an opinion of whether it will be of any help to you in the exam.
This applies to your book, notes and any hand outs you have received over the term from me or any other sociology teacher.
Make a note of any questions on the subject that come to mind, or particularly interest you following your survey of your notes.
If not, you should scan the notes/book again to see if any stand out. These questions can be considered almost as study goals – understanding the answers can help you to structure the information in your own mind.
Read (sounds simple enough right?)
Now read the notes/select chapters of your book. Particularly read through useful sections in detail , taking care to understand all the points that are relevant.
In the case of some texts this reading may be very slow, such as in sociology. This will particularly be the case if there is a lot of dense and complicated information. While you are reading, it can help to take notes in 'Concept Map' format.
What is a Concept Map?
Once you have read appropriate sections of the book and your notes, run through it in your mind several times . It is important to learn to think sociologically.
Isolate the core facts or the essential processes behind the subject, and then see how other information fits around them.
Review, Review REVIEW
Once you have run through the exercise of recalling the information, like for example, important names and theories, you can move on to the stage of reviewing it.
This review can be by rereading your notes/chapters in the book, by expanding your notes, or by discussing the material with fellow sociology students.
A particularly effective method of reviewing information is to have to teach it to someone else!
Ways to Remember Important Information
By Association. This is where you think of someone/thing in relation to something else that is already familiar to you.
Association also works if you create vivid, memorable images. You remember information more easily if you can visualize it. If you want to associate a child with a book, try not to visualize the child reading the book -- that's too simple and forgettable. Instead, come up with something more jarring, something that sticks, like the book chasing the child, or the child eating the book. It's your mind -– make the images as shocking and emotional as possible to keep the associations strong.
Example: Talcott Parsons visualised as a street musician playing a accordion (instrument) and singing a sad song (expressive).
Yellow sticky pads—name on one side with the theory or concept on the other side. Put in places you frequent- the bathroom, your bedroom mirror, the front of the fridge etc...
Note cards... old fashioned, yes, but practical-- certainly! Same concept as above, except these should be pocket sized, and thus portable and living in your pockets until the day of the exam. Every spare moment you'd be checking messages/texts on you mobile, you should read 'X' amount of cards FIRST . Make it a habit!
Get a bunch of your sociology friends together and quiz each other!
Work as teams, singles, making a game of it. Try for quality answers, not speed in answering-- initially anyway.
Read off past paper questions and quiz each other on what information/theorists would be appropriate to use in your written response.