A lot of my colleagues like to study off of the powerpoint slides.  Now a days we’re stuck in a craze of Professors jam-packing presentations with tons of information, just to read off of it.  It’s a good and a bad thing.  The information is all there so if you’re not paying attention, sitting in the back of the class shopping Amazon deals, it’s great. But, active listening and participation is key to a conductive learning environment.  Reading the slides out loud doesn’t do much in terms of helping our brain make those critical connections it needs to make things stick.

I attempted to study off of powerpoint slides for the longest time, but it just didn’t work for me.  My brain likes information presented in a certain format.  I have the most beautiful handwriting, but my brain doesn’t like reading my tiny script to study off of.  I needed a typed study guide.  But how could I do that efficiently?  CRNA school doesn’t leave me much time to fiddle with microsoft word… so I use this hack I learned back in nursing school to utilize the PPT slides as the foundation for my guides that I can easily study from.

These are instructions for a Mac. Windows users I apologize, but you can probably get the gist of it.

  1. Download Powerpoint presentation and set it into outline view. View –> Outline View.
    1. Be aware that super long powerpoints may take awhile and can crash the application.  If this happens, split your powerpoint into part 1, 2, 3 etc. if it’s too much for your computer to handle. 
  2. This is what it’ll look like in the outline view.  Notice the areas that just have boxes and no text are slides with pictures.  Also, this is what it’ll look like if you were just to print the outline view.  If you’re in a hurry, this works great and you can just print it out if that formatting doesn’t bother you. However I’m OCD so that wasn’t going to cut it.
  3. Select all the text from the outline view and copy it. Edit –> Select All, then Edit –> Copy.  
  4. Open a new Microsoft Word Document. Start off by placing a bullet point of your choice at the beginning of the document. This sets the formatting for the document.
  5. Paste the information to the document. Make sure you paste at the first bullet point and you select ‘Keep Text Only’.  Sometimes if different bullet points are used from the PPT, selecting ‘Match Source Formatting’ will insert an additional bullet point before your text and that’s annoying!
  6. If you’re lucky to get the powerpoint before class, you’ll have time to adjust your bullet points.  Remove the bullet points from the headers and indent the information as shown in the powerpoint.  Because I generally don’t get the ppt until the day of, I do this actively during class while taking notes.  If it’s a subject where I have to write too many notes and I cannot keep up, I’ll just write notes in the note section of the PPT slide in Powerpoint, organize my outline and add the notes after class. 

I know it seems like a lot, but it takes a lot less time than creating a study guide from scratch.  For focused tests, I’ll save an alternate version, and delete any topics that won’t be covered for the test.  Then I’ll have a test-specific study guide.

From here, I look at the things that I’ve highlighted during class, review my class recordings, and add pertinent information from the textbook as needed.  Throughout the week, I do the associated APEX review module, read the corresponding information in my Valley Review Book and Dukes Anesthesia Secrets to “make it stick!”

For my nursing students, find alternate methods of reviewing your material.  Reading the same thing over and over is going to help you memorize things, but it won’t aid your understanding much.  Supplement your PPT and learning with YouTube videos, questions from the textbook and NCLEX or CCRN review books.

Any questions or comments? Let me know!