How to study for this test
November 2, 2006 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Wiki(or other)Filter: I am about 1.5 years out from a huge exam. I have a ton of notes that I have taken from my reading over the past few years (with a lot more to be done). I want to display/study them in a specific way. Help me find something that will suit. Requirements inside (long).

My notes are all organized like this:


What are the histologic features of renal dysplasia

1. Simple tubules
2. Undifferentiated mesenchyme
3. Cysts

I have a ton of these questions that are aggregated from different sources into a variety of grouped topics. My goal is to have something that will display a page with a list of the questions, with the answers hidden, then when I answer the questions in my head, I can click on something to display the question underneath it.

My requirements are:
1. Portable (usb drive)
2. Tagging
3. Ability to integrate photos in with the questions (I'm a pathologist so pictures are everything)
4. Windows-based

Bonus points for these features:
1. Ability to mark individual questions (eg. mark ones I miss)
2. searchable
3. Exportable (ie. to XML or other format)
4. Multi-user editable (I may include a few colleagues in the project, but not necessarily).

I'm thinking about a wiki, but I don't know if any would fit my vision for it. I have very limited experience with wikis.

So hive-mind do your thing.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You didn't say what OS, and you didn't say that it had to be free, so you might want to have a look at treepad.
posted by bigmusic at 9:04 AM on November 2, 2006

Response by poster: Windows-based... it's in there.

Something I should have included is that I have used Keynote (treepad freeware) for a long time. And while I really love that program, it doesn't do everything that I'd like it to. While it's great for taking notes, you're still forced to display the notes in a linear fashion (and without tagging or any other type of metadata).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2006

I would take a peek at Backpack? It has tagging, page organization and shareable pages.
posted by duckus at 9:28 AM on November 2, 2006

Best answer: Hmm. Tiddlywiki? It's a totally self-contained, javascript-based wiki, so you could run it off a thumb drive.

I think this would work pretty well. The "tiddler" concept would be a tidy way to hide/show answers.
posted by adamrice at 9:44 AM on November 2, 2006

You might check out Adobe Presenter, which is a Powerpoint plugin that lets you create Flash content. One of its features is a quiz builder, which lets you build quizzes. Your finished presentations are searchable, and viewable on any platform. They're not really exportable in any meaningful way, other than as Flash content. They can be run off of removable media, CDs, etc.

Since it uses Powerpoint as the authoring tools, pretty much anything you can do in Powerpoint you can do in Presenter. You can also easily add audio annotations to your presentation.

The quiz creation functionality has quite a few options. Some of those options are only available if you publish your content to an Adobe Connect (formerly Adobe Breeze) server, or to an LMS that supports SCORM or AICC.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:50 AM on November 2, 2006

Best answer: The Windows version of Tinderbox is still in development, so it doesn't meet your OS criterion. But if you're willing to take a look anyway (maybe watch a few of the screencasts, or borrow a Mac to play around with it), it is the most flexible note-taking and data-organization app around, and appears to meet all your other needs perfectly. It would be quite easy to set up a Tinderbox document for your needs and then export it to any format you desire (XML is the native storage format). In particular, the Stretchtext export would allow you to create web pages that would show and hide your answers.
posted by RogerB at 10:02 AM on November 2, 2006

Response by poster: That Stretchtext looks perfect. Exactly what I'm looking for. I'm a windows fan-boy, but something like that makes me reconsider for a moment.

On that demo page, the author mentions that a form of stretchtext is available to Microsoft Office users. Any idea what he means?
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 10:16 AM on November 2, 2006

Best answer: A Tiddlywiki with the the Checkmark, NestedSliders, and ExportTiddler plugins would work perfectly for what you want to do -- work on a USB thumbdrive, able to insert images (though, if you can keep the images within the wiki itself as opposed to linking to the images, I don't know how), hide answers, check off and mark tiddlers, tag questions/answers, exportable, and ablility to be searched.

Since I only use my wikis for my own needs (collecting protocols for lab work and having a self-linking/weaving literature/notetaking wiki), I don't know how to get the multi-user aspect up and running, but it looks like there are some plugins you could use on BidiXTW.
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 10:22 AM on November 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

wow, this is node 50000. congratulations. you should win something.
posted by SeƱor Pantalones at 10:27 AM on November 2, 2006

Response by poster: @adamrice: Tiddlywiki is the winner.

@The Bishop of Turkey:

That's perfect. I was racking my to figure out how to do what the NestedSliders does. That's exactly what I need. And it is definetly in my price range. The multiuser editing is not necessary right now- maybe in the future, so I'll play around with that.

I swear... the MeFi never fails to deliver.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 11:19 AM on November 2, 2006

Are you sure that TiddlyWiki can hold the amount of data you need without getting too slow? I investigated it briefly once, and I think bad scalability was the reason I didn't go along with it.
posted by springload at 2:15 PM on November 2, 2006

You might want to also check out ConnectedText for a PC. I like it a lot, and you can export the files as html.
posted by AArtaud at 2:56 PM on November 2, 2006

50000GET! Epic!
posted by Rhomboid at 3:04 PM on November 2, 2006

On the off chance that you have a Palm Pilot or Treo, Quiz Wiz does exactly what you're asking.
posted by chickletworks at 7:57 PM on November 2, 2006

I use microsoft excel. I have one column for questions, and one column for answers. When you want to quiz yourself, just set the font color of the answer column to white. All the text will be invisible until you highlight the cell. When you're done quizzing, you can reset the text color back to black. You can also use Excel to randomize the row within sections.

With regards to your specific needs, here are some adjustments: (1) Portable - Excel is on many public kiosk computers. You can also download open office onto a thumb drive and use it to open excel files. (2) Tagging -covered. (3) Images - yeah, you can insert a link or the image itself. (4) Windows based - yes.

Bonus: (1) Mark questions - easy, just put a * on a 3rd column.. you can even use Excel to sort for the *'s to aggregate all those rows. (2) Searchable - easy with find function (3) Exportable to XML - I think so (4) Multi-user editable - I think that's a feature of the new office if you have it.. I don't know about this.

My own bonuses: (5) You can review the document on a PDA without extra software (6) It's easy to make a compact printout.
posted by alex3005 at 7:57 AM on November 3, 2006

It is my opinion (after studying my ass off the GRE and scoring much higher than I ever thought possible) that the most important thing you can do is get yourself comfortable with the test on an almost wholly unconscious level. Take so many practice tests that you feel completely at home with the format and the type of questions.

I think a lot of this is explained in Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink", that the more experience you get with a test, the better your brain is at just feeling what the right answer is -- it's not something you can explain or understand, but your brain just knows. Granted, this takes a massive amount of studying, but, in my case, eventually something clicked and my ability to guess the correct answer (when I wasn't able to work through it logically) went through the roof.

That might be too hippie and new-age for you, but for me, it worked. I don't think I got any smarter or learned all that much more information, I just think I got to know the process really well, and that made a world of difference.
posted by JPowers at 8:39 AM on November 3, 2006

RogerB: The Tinderbox Stretchtext Writing System was my work. Thanks for mentioning it :-).

I actually don't use the Stretchtext item for studying or notes. I use the Tinderbox presentation assistant as a great way to keep notes, review material, and quiz myself.
posted by honest knave at 3:39 PM on December 13, 2006

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