Like the true nerd I am, I save my notes. All of them.

At the start of my university career I got a thick purple binder I intended to use to keep all my notes. Little did I know how fast those things fill up, and now, at the end of my third term, I have a second one.

Very rarely do I actually go back and look at my notes. Most classes have review components in order to both orient yourself and to even the playing field in case some students didn’t learn all the content. But I still maintain this habit for the odd time when I do need to look at something from a past class. When I did so recently, I noticed my notes from first year were oddly neat. Diagrams were done neatly with text wrapped around it, lists were made with purposeful indents to stand out, a couple printed pictures are taped here and there, and overall the handwriting doesn’t look like it was written franticly in an attempt to finally finish a reading I had been working on for five hours. It looks nice. I, somehow, in my first year had taken the time to rewrite notes in order to put them into a neat and tidy midterm and final exam review.

Looking at these now if almost laughable though. It’s been a while since I took the time to rewrite notes. Nowadays I just make sure my class and textbook notes are detailed enough and study them in full with a group.

What I think this highlights is the adaptation of the style of notes I take with what I find works best for studying.

First year was a mess. And I think most people in their upper university years will agree. First year is all about figuring out what kind of habits work best for you, whether that be eating habits, study habits, note-taking habits, you name it. What works best for me is to print lecture slides and take notes directly off of those. Of course for textbook notes, pencil and paper still work best for me (though my handwriting is no where near as neat!).

A few of my friends have found typing notes during class and then rewriting the notes afterwards helps them study best, while one person I live with found that writing out her notes as many times as possible leading up to the exam was best for her.

First year is about discovering what works best for you – and that can end up varying widely depending the person. However if you’re looking for a good place to start as a base (or perhaps even these will end up being what works best for you), here are some past Minute School articles to help you out:

Tips For Making Notes From Textbooks

Benefits of Writing on Paper

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