HOW TO TAKE EFFECTIVE NOTES IN COLLEGE Introduction Taking effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help you recall important information when you review them, actually just writing things down can help you learn that information and remember it better, more quickly. Being able to take good notes is also an important way of training your brain to identify important information. And its vital no matter what college degree youre pursuing. A career in the business world will likely involve a lot of meetings with important information, and youll need to take notes to remember everything that was discussed. In health science training , being able to listen and recall is one of the most important traits to develop, especially when dealing with patients and note-taking skills are the way to grow that talent. And if youre going for a degree in a complex, information-dense field, like an information systems security program , you need to be able to absorb, understand, and recall crucial information that will help you tackle problems and find solutions. So developing strong note-taking skills is essential but the problem is, it isnt a skill thats generally taught. So how do you learn how to take good notes What are the note-taking skills you ought to have, to make sure you get the most out of every class you take Here are 7 important things you should know about taking the kind of notes that will help you succeed. Read your assignment before you come to class Note taking comes easier when you already have some understanding or awareness of the material. Get organized . Begin each lecture on a new page. Its important to date each new lecture, and number your pages. After class, make sure you go back to add a topic/heading to the top of each page to make finding specific information easier. Give yourself room. Consider writing on only one side of the paper, for greater legibility. Use loose-leaf notebooks for notes, which makes it easy to organize them when you review, as well as to rearrange your notes, insert additional materials like handouts and study guides, and insert notes you borrow from study partners or classmates. Most importantly, dont worry about using up all the available space on the pagegive yourself room to go back and add information as your instructor continues to talk, and to make extra notes when you make connections in class. Think while you write This means you cant write down every single word your instructor says. If you try to transcribe your teachers lecture, you have no room for thinking about what youre writing and how it fits together, and you inevitably fall behind and get frustrated. As you listen and write, think about what information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project. Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading. And during class, listen for verbal cues from your instructor that indicate important information. Ask questions . As you listen and write, make sure to record your questions, things you asked the professor about. This will help you stay aware of potential gaps in your understanding, make sure you focus on those parts of the material when reviewing your notes later, and look up information you need to help strengthen what youve learned. Develop a system. Outlining Numbered paragraphs A mind-map Charts and graphs Theres no right way to organize your notes. Experiment with the way that best reflects how you listen, how you think, and how you process information. Review. After the lecture, go through your notes. Consider leaving space on each page or after each important section of class for a short summary, in your own words, of the material you covered. This can help you process the information by making you think it through and ensuring you understand it. Reviewing your notes also helps you remember the material, underscores the instructors lecture, and lets you add things you want to make sure you dont forget and organize material that is connected. Theres no one way to take notes in class or develop note-taking skills, but its an incredibly important ability to learn and one that will help you not just throughout school but throughout your career. Heading off to college is kind of like leveling up in a video game. In high school, the tests and courses were smaller bosses that you could take down with low-level equipment. Now that youre in college, youre going to need to upgrade some of those items youre taking with you if you want to succeed. This is a whole new adventure, my dude. One of the tools you have at your disposal is your notes. Maybe in high school you were pretty good at taking notes, and now you just need to upgrade them a little bit. Maybe youre feeling like I did in college, and youve realized youve never properly learned how to take notes. Never fear Your guide to taking awesome, effective notes is finally here . Your days of looking back at what you scribbled down in class and trying to decipher useful information from them before a test are over. In this guide, well talk about how to prepare yourself to take good notes in class, introduce some popular techniques for taking notes, and cover the best ways to get the most out of your notes after class. Before You Get to Class The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows David Ausubel Before you even think about heading to class, make sure that youve read (or at least skimmed) all pre-assigned reading from your professor. Even if you dont have assigned reading, try and familiarize yourself with the topic before you get to class so you know what to expect. A 2004 study by Spies and Wilkin found that the law students who were responsible for reading a legal case before they got to class displayed a greater understanding of the learning materials than students who were not expected to prepare before class. Also dont forget to pack all the things you need to learn effectively. Make sure you have multiple pencils (or some backup lead), a notebook, pens, highlighters, sticky notes, your textbook, and your laptop. Dont forget water Its tempting to bring coffee or some other form of caffeine to class. Try to stick to water and consume caffeine intelligently. While coffee doesnt dehydrate you , and coffee in moderation certainly helps you focus and stay alert, caffeine dependency interferes with your quality of sleep and impairs mental function, ultimately impacting your ability to pay attention during class. Lastly, grab a snack before you head out the door for class. Avoid high-salt or high-sugar options, and aim for a complete snack that includes fat, protein, and carbs. Apples and peanut butter, crackers and cheese, or even certain power bars are good options. These snacks will leave you feeling full for longer, ensuring that you wont be distracted by how much you want a burrito in the middle of your professors lecture about the structure of a cell. The Notetaking Mindset The other thing you should get in order before coming to class is your brain. I know that when Im in a good mood and have a positive attitude, Im way more likely to learn. I hate math. I suck at math. Im like, the worst math student ever . I failed my high-school algebra courses three times. Thats how bad at math I am When I got to college, my college-level algebra course was the one thing holding me back from actually finishing my associates degree. I decided that I was going to pass the class. So, I showed up every day with a (more or less) positive attitude, made an effort to make friends with a classmate I could study with, and paid attention to the lecture, working out problems myself as we went along. In the end, I may not have gotten an A in the course, but I did get a Bwhich was the highest math score I had ever gotten since elementary school. Moral of the story Attitude is everything. Quick tip If you notice during class that your professor has mentioned the same fact twice or more, or has repeated a fact that was talked about in the previous lecture, make a note to yourself. Circle it, underline it, something to tell your brain to pay attention. Its definitely going to be important later. Keep an eye out for repetition. 6 Notetaking Systems We Recommend Now that youre ready to take notes, lets talk about some popular note-taking techniques. Everyone has a slightly different way that they learn, and certain subjects lend themselves to different style. Dont be afraid to experiment with different techniques to find one thats right for you Structured The Outline This is for people who like simplicity. Its one of the easiest ways to take notes, and comes pretty naturally to most people. When taking your outline notes, start by choosing four or five key points that will be covered in your lecture. Beneath those points write some more in-depth sub-points about each topic as the professor covers them. If youre taking outline notes by hand, be sure to leave enough space on each page so that you have plenty of room for all your sub-points. Or, you can take them on a computer and simply rearrange as you go in your text document. This is a great, simple approach to take notes. Itll help you follow along and pay attention during class, but it can be overwhelming to review these notes later . To aid in reviewing these kind of notes, try to read each main point and summarize it yourself without looking too much at your notes. Use your notes to test yourself on how much you actually know rather than simply rereading them over and over. For Review The Cornell Method The Cornell Method is a pretty good way of dividing up your notes if youre looking to get the most out of your review time. In this method, you divide your paper into three sections notes, cues, and summary. Your notes section is for the notes you take during class. You can structure them however you like, but most people like to use an outlining method. You should write your cues section either during or directly after class. You can fill this section with main points, people, or potential test questions. Use this section to give yourself cues to help you remember larger ideas. You can write your summary section directly after class, or later when youre reviewing your notes. Use this section to summarize the entire lecture. Keep your cue and summary sections as simple as possible. However, feel free to fill up the notes section with doodles, diagrams, page references, and whatever else you need to properly represent the material presented in class. In Depth The Mind Map The mind map is a great way of taking notes for specific types of subjects. Class subjects like chemestry, history, and philosophy that have interlocking topics or complex, abstract ideas are perfect for this method.. Use the mind map to get a handle on how certain topics relate, or to go in depth with one particular idea. For instance, if youre attending a lecture about the Fall of the Roman Empire, start with that concept in the center and then draw nodes of all the things that led to Romes fall as your professor lists them. Things like debt, irresponsible emperors, attacks from the surrounding barbarian tribes, and so on. Later, to review, go more in depth and add smaller sub-concepts onto each branch. Things like dates, formulas, supporting facts, and related concepts make for great branches. In the end, it might look something like this Holistic Flow Notes This notetaking method is great for students looking to maximize their active learning within the classroom and minimize their review time later. The point of flow notes is to treat yourself like the student you are, and not a lecture-transcribing machine. Jot down topics, draw arrows, make little doodles and diagrams and graphs. Go crazy. Engage with the material. Try to actively learn as youre writing. Perhaps youre in history class and your professor is talking about the Battle of Hastings, and you remember that it happened in 1066 and that there were other things happening across the globe in the year 1066, too. Write those facts down and draw connections. The skys the limit on this one. Its great for people who hate rules. Caution while this method is great for learning in the moment, it can be difficult to review flow notes later. If youre an auditory and visual learner and retain a lot of what you learn from your lectures, maybe that works fine for you. If not, try pairing your flow notes with the Cornell Method to make them easier to review for tests. Easy Writing on Slides Lets be honest, this is notetaking for lazy peopleand theres nothing wrong with that Its super effective, and its easy. If your professor is kind enough to provide you with the slides that theyre using in their lectures, go ahead and download the files and print them out at the computer lab. The slides give you a leg up on the outlining process. The professor already did the work for you All you have to do is take notes and expand on key concepts already presented in the slides. It works great, too, because later you can look at the slide and more or less remember what the professor was talking about when they reached that slide. Its like having a step-by-step walkthrough of the lecture, and you hardly had to do a thing to get it Visual Bullet Journaling This is my personal favorite. Its the notetaking style I use most often, both in and out of the classroom. If youre super into aesthetics, like to doodle, or are a particularly visual learner, this method might be best for you. When you write in your bullet journal, you turn a blank page into a beautiful representation of your thought process. Try using it to combine different aspects of other notetaking styles. You can have one page thats dedicated to mind maps, another thats dedicated to your flow notes, and even sneak in a class schedule or a doodle of Sonic the Hedgehog in somewhere. Its your bullet journal. I dont know, do what you want Its your journal This method does have drawbacks. It can be difficult to take notes quickly. The goal of bullet journaling is to keep your journal organized and attractive, which can be hard when youre scribbling down information as fast as you can. One way to combat this is to take notes during class in an outline or using some other method, and then organize them later in your bullet journal as a form of review. Need ideas for what your journal should look like Just go on Pinterest or google BuJo ideas, or, specifically, BuJo ideas for students, and knock yourself out. Theres tons of stuff out there Should You Use Your Computer to Take Notes So, should you use your laptop to take notes, or write them longhand Students, scientists, and teachers have been debating this ever since laptops were allowed into classrooms. The short answer No. The longer answer is a bit more complicated. In a study published in 2014, students who took notes on a laptop were more likely to simply copy down what their professor said verbatim. This actually impaired their learning because their brains were processing the information shallowly, instead of taking larger concepts and condensing them into note-form. These students performed poorly on conceptual tests compared to others who took notes longhand. Not only that, but another study published in 2010 showed that most students who take their laptops to class are only working on class-related material about 58 of the time. The other 42 is taken up by going online, working on different assignments, or playing Space Invaders. These students were more likely to fall off task and were less satisfied with their education when asked about it. The studies concur using laptops to take notes in class might not be the best choice. Of course, it all depends on how you use your computer. If youre a self-disciplined person, you might benefit from having your laptop to take verbatim notes you can study extensively later. One history class I took in college was actually better because we had access to our laptops , and could quickly check facts for our professor. They were put to good use during discussion times, since students could do a tiny bit of googling before they contributed their thoughts. In short its up to you what tool you use to take notes. Youre responsible for your education . Just make sure that the tool youre using is a tool, and not a distraction. If you find yourself nipping out of your notetaking document to play Sims 3 or scroll through your Facebook feed, maybe switch to taking longhand notes. The Best of Both Worlds prefer writing by hand, but still want to be able to access your notes on your computer and are tired of buying notebooks just so you can throw them away later Theres a solution for that. Rocketbooks are a super cool piece of new notetaking technology. The notebook is completely reusable. Simply take your notes, scan them using your phone and the Rocketbook app, and then, depending on which notebook you have, wipe it clean with a damp cloth to re-use it virtually indefinitely . If youre using the Rocketbook Wave, you can just throw it in the microwave and nuke it up to three times. Voila Youve got a reusable notebook, and digital notes that you didnt have to take using a tablet and stylus or type out on your laptop. Id never heard of these before researching this article, and let me tell you, they sound like a great option for students looking to lighten their backpack load, theyre good for the environment, and theyll save you some money and space since youre not buying a new notebook every single term. Get the Most Out of Your Notes Phew How are you doing Good That was a lot. Heres one last thing Now that youve got your notes and class is over, how do you get the most out of them There are three great ways to maximize your notes Review, review, review. Make sure that you review your notes within the first 24 hours after your lecture. This cements everything you heard and learned in your brain so it wont fall out of your head later. Review a small portion of your notes every day. Dont try to cram before your test. Reviewing over a long period time ensures that what youve learned will stick, and improve your recall. As youre doing assigned reading or research, have your notes on hand and notice repetition. If your professor covered it in class and its in your assigned reading, theres a good chance itll be on the test. CONCLUSION Ultimately, we could talk about notes and notetaking techniques all day. But the most important thing to understand is that notetaking is a skill. Everyones brain works a little differently, and what might work for me wont necessarily work for you. Take notes often, experiment, and find out what you like. You made it to the end Now, its up to you. Commit to the process, pay attention in class, and dont forget to review. Youve got this, dude. Y, B8L 1(IzZYrH9pd4n(KgVB,lDAeX)Ly5otebW3gpj/gQjZTae9i5j5fE514g7vnO( ,[email protected] /[email protected] 6Q