How to Create a "Cheat Sheet" (Allowed Reference Sheet)

Colloquially termed "Cheat Sheets" are sometimes allowed in tests, namely mathematics tests. These can be difficult to write, especially if you are doing it for the first time. This guide will give helpful tips in creating these "cheat sheets".


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    Revise all the topics to be covered in the exam/ test. Don't try to rely completely on "cheat sheets" as they will hinder you from actually remembering anything. Instead, revise everything first, as if you couldn't use a cheat sheet.
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    Identify key things to put into cheat sheets. Some of these are: equations, diagrams, definitions, conversions, concepts and other hard-to-memorise facts. List them as dot points if need be.
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    Find a good, sharp pen. Ball point pens of 0.1mm are really good, but anything up to 0.5mm are fine. Finding small highlighters and different coloured pens can be useful, but is not necessary. Also find a pencil and a ruler, but these do not need to be so sharp.
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    Write down what you need in neat writing. Since you will be writing small to fit in all the necessary information, you want to write as neat as possible so that you can read what you've got.
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    Divide the notes into sections. Some people like to divide it into sub-topics, some people like to divide it into large concepts. Some people (I personally prefer this) like to divide every single bit of information.Box off the divisions with the pencil and ruler, or by different colour pens, highlighters or a mixture of all of the above. This comes as a personal preference.
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    If you run out of room, then you will need to stop. Re-do the whole thing on a new sheet of paper, this time eliminating things you think you can remember. If you are really desperate, you can write try a completely different method - see the tips.
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    Try to leave a little bit of room at the bottom of the paper. Share your notes with friends, who will have some facts that you forgot or missed out. Copy their notes into the small space you've left behind.
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    Revise the notes you've written. Although they will be there for your exam, you really want to just memorise the whole thing off by heart. These sheets are supposed to guide you if you fall into panic!


  • If you run out of room, then instead of writing small in a sheet of paper, write the notes large over two sheets. Then scan them and digitally put them together on the computer. Print it out, and trace out the printed notes on a new piece of paper. This method is difficult and very annoying, so I advise against it. But if you are desperate, it is a possibility.
  • Ask your teacher, parent or friends to read your notes! They will give feedback that you would have not expected at all!


  • If you're writing is not neat, then you will have a hard time deciphering your own writing at the test. Spend a good amount of time to "perfect" your notes.

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Categories: Surviving School