Many students simply use the subject reading guide to keep track of their readings for the semester. While this is a simple and effective way of managing readings, it is also easy to lose track of what readings you need to catch up on – especially when lectures start to fall behind schedule. Therefore, you may wish to use your computer to keep an eye on which readings you have read, taken detailed notes on, and incorporated into your exam notes. Preparation for this can begin before the start of semester.

This has three advantages:

  • It is much easier to manage readings on your computer, phone or tablet than it is to carry the reading guide around,
  • It is easier to make adjustments to your readings – for example by removing readings that you are no longer required to read, and
  • Later in the semester it is very useful to know exactly which readings you have missed or not taken notes on.

It is also a good idea to use this system to keep track of your assessments – when they are due, and what steps need to be taken towards completing them.

Fortunately, the process is quite simple, and can be done using Excel, Google Drive or Trello.

If you are using a spreadsheet format, create six columns: Date, Topic, Reading, Read, Notes taken, and Exam notes. The first three columns indicate what readings you need to do, when they are due, and where they fit into the subject. The next three columns are checkboxes, which allow you to easily see whether you have read the reading, taken notes on it, and incorporated those notes into your exam notes. Finally, open the reading guide and copy the topic titles and readings into the spreadsheet. Generally, you will be able to copy a list of readings and paste it directly into spreadsheet – each reading on the list should automatically copy into the cell below the previous reading. The result will look something like this:

Spreadsheet Management of Readings
A spreadsheet with a semester’s worth of readings will look something like this.

If you are using Trello, create a new Board for each subject. Trello is highly flexible, which means that there are many possible ways of organising your readings, and you are encouraged to use whatever method most appeals to you. I generally create three lists – one for general information, one for assessments, and one for the readings. Then I create five labels – Take Notes, Exam Notes, Important, Review, and Done. Each label can be attached to any number of Trello cards. Then, I copy each subject topic into a new card. Clicking the card will open it and reveal a list of options. For each class, I create a checklist of required readings, and a separate checklist of recommended readings, before copying each list of readings into it. Again, copying a list of readings from the reading guide into Trello should automatically place each reading in the list in a separate row. The result should look like this:

Trello subject board
A Trello board for each subject will look something like this.
Trello topic card
Clicking on any of the ‘cards’ on the subject board will open up this view, which contains a range of options.





















Good luck this semester!