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Studying and Taking Exams

Mind Maps

Mind maps help with connective thinking and categorizing information, which helps you study and write essays. To make a mind map, start with a central idea and branch related ideas off the middle. Ideas might connect to the main idea or to peripheral ideas.  

How to Create a Mind Map  

  • Just start writing. Draw quickly without judging, pausing, or editing. Think creatively.  

  • Look for relationships. Use lines, colour, arrows etc. to show connections between ideas. Reinforce connections by writing relationships on the page.  

  • Turn your paper sideways so you have more space.  

  • Use a pencil so you can make changes.  

  • Use McMaster’s Inspiration program to create digital mind maps. Inspiration is installed on library computers. It creates mind maps and can also convert them to linear outlines or slideshow presentations. (Tutorial:  

Using a Mind Map to Study  

  • What do you already know? Write out facts and relationships.  

  • Check facts. Review your notes one concept at a time. Correct any mistakes in your first draft.  

  • Test your understanding. Connect new information with prior knowledge. Understand how concepts connect. Try putting the mind map out of sight and drawing it from memory.  

Using a Mind Map to Write an Essay  

  • Pick a topic and familiarize yourself with it. Start researching, then once you have a clear understanding of key ideas, create a mind map to establish connections. You might discover new areas to research, so be prepared to revisit the source material.  

  • Sift through information. Key themes will emerge and you will identify strong and interesting arguments. Once you pick arguments, do more research; each claim must be fully supported.  


Improve your writing and study skills! Book an appointment with a writing advisor and/or academic coach on OSCARplus.  Questions? Email   


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