Taking notes can be a difficult habit to get it, not to mention taking quality good notes too. With that difficulty in mind, I’ve decided to write this blog to help you, and also put in a note-taking method of mine too (as an example). So without further ado, here are a few tips to help with note-taking.
Read textbook ahead of time and write notes. As hard as the task may seem, reading your assigned textbook readings ahead of time will help you tremendously. It will better prepare you for the content that your professor will teach for that day. However, just reading the textbook without some form of a guideline won’t help keep you organized. So here are a few tips for when writing textbook reading notes:
- Note down the headings and subheadings.
- Then write down the main ideas of those sections while reading. This will help you understand those headings and subheadings for when you go back to study those sections.
- If highlighting is your cup of tea, don’t use the same colour to highlight. Switch up the colours and organize the things you want to highlight by theme. This will also help with studying later on.
Take notes during class. When you come to your class lecture and sit down, the one thing you don’t want to do is just sit there and do nothing. Take notes! Depending on the prof, you can use your laptop or tablet to take notes. Other times you’re only allowed with the traditional pen, pencil and paper. There are benefits for both writing on paper and using electronics. For me, I do a blend. I have the lecture slides that my prof has posted online the day before opened on my laptop and a clipboard filled with paper. As the prof goes through their powerpoint slides, I reference the slide that they’re on and I write any concepts they’ve written on the white/blackboards or spoken about all on my handy-dandy clipboard. Because of how fast profs can sometimes go, using short forms of words, symbols and numbers definitely helped.
But just remember, if the prof is going too fast for you, odds are that you’re not the only one. So just put up your hand and ask them to go over what they’ve said, or you can just tell them that they’re going too fast. You’d be surprised how many profs will understand and just go slower. They themselves know they can tend to go too fast, so they encourage their students to point that out.
Now, as a quick summary to taking notes during class:
- Use a laptop or tablet, if professors allow you.
- Write down concepts written on the board.
- Write down concepts spoken about by the prof.
- USE SHORT FORMS. Abbreviate words, use numbers, use symbols. Remember, you’re not writing a script.
- Print off the online notes, whether they’re posted before or after class. Then take them to class for better note taking.
Review notes at home. Doing this right after you’ve come home from the lecture will help ground the information you’ve absorbed and written down while there, even though reviewing your notes is a difficult task when all you want to do is just sleep and relax. You can take this time to also correct anything that you’ve miswritten, or add any ideas that you’ve missed. This is where it’s so useful to have a study partner or friend in that same class. You two (or more) can then share notes and/or add any concepts that you’ve missed. You can also give notes to each other if one person is away.
Therefore, go into class with these tips strapped on your belt and good luck! Remember, read the textbook ahead of time and write notes, take notes during class, and then review them at home. Doing these will help so much when it comes to midterms and exams.