Note taking is an important part of the learning process and good notes can be a really effective study tool in the lead up to any exams or assignments.
Here are 5 handy steps to get your class notes in tip-top shape for studying!
- Choose your weapon.
Are you more of a laptop or notebook kind of person? Understanding your preference for note-taking is a really important first step.
For some people, the ability to type quickly in class is key. Using a laptop also means that you can have a few different pages open, allowing you to organise your notes WHILE you are writing.
For others, the simple act of pen to paper is more important. Handwriting notes means less distractions and it’s also an effective way to work up some endurance for writing for longer periods of time – like in an exam!
Whatever your preference, it’s up to you. Knowing how you like to work and being prepared is a crucial first step to taking good notes.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
You are presented with a lot of information every day in class and in order to feel confident with what you are working on, attention is key.
So put that phone down, close that ASOS tab, log off Facebook and politely ask your friend to keep it down – it’s note-taking time!
Don’t aim for perfection.
It can be tempting to activate your super speed mode and write down every word that comes out of your teacher’s mouth, as well as the notes on the PowerPoint slide, all whilst trying to accurately copy the detailed diagram on the whiteboard. It may seem easy enough for the first minute or two, but trying to maintain that level of activity for a whole class is an impossible task!
Don’t worry about writing every single word down. It is okay to summarise – in fact, it will probably help you in the long run. Dot points are your friend. They are a good way to organise your notes and a really effective way to filter out some of the unnecessary words or information.
Think about the big picture.
A great way to improve your class notes is to gather small pieces of information under larger ideas.
Keep an ear open for common themes or key words that your teacher repeats. You might want to allocate a specific colour to a certain idea or theme and highlight everything that relates to it. Which leads us on to the final tip…
…Make them interesting.
Mind maps, diagrams, tables, colours, highlighters – the possibilities are endless! Class notes do not have to be dull. In fact, making your notes more exciting can be really beneficial later on when you are preparing for an exam or assignment.
Mind maps are a great way of creating connections between different pieces of information and the little branches that stem out from larger ideas can provide important detail.
Diagrams and tables are also a really interesting way to present information and, when compared to a large paragraph of text, are more likely to stick in your head.
Colour coding your notes using pens or highlighters will make your notes organised and much more fun to look at.
Note-taking doesn’t have to be boring and it’s a great way to get the most out of every class!