Taking good notes has never been more critical. With so much information being thrown at us daily, it’s essential to make sure that you remember what you hear or read about by taking notes immediately after your learning experience. If you don’t take good notes, you risk wasting all of your time studying something that isn’t even useful to you, which can be highly frustrating during exam season. To help ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, here are 5 simple ways to improve your note-taking skills so that you can become the best student in your class!
1) Make notes brief and to-the-point
You can try abbreviating words to effectively take your notes. However, this must be done with care because if done incorrectly, things can go south quickly. Substituting words like with for w/ or because for bc are some ways to make note-taking effective and quick. You can shorten the length of your writing without losing the main message.
2) List keywords in the margin
No matter how you take notes, your notes will only be as good as your keywords. A lot of students don’t think about keywords when they’re taking notes. To really improve your note-taking skills, make sure that all of your jottings have a keyword in them somewhere—whether it’s an acronym, a symbol or some other indicator. By referencing those keywords throughout your study time, you can quickly hone in on relevant sections without wasting time going over irrelevant material again and again.
3) Separate concepts by colour
Sometimes, different concepts in a lecture will be highlighted in different colours. This makes it easy for students to follow along when they’re making notes. Colour-coding your notes is an excellent way to make sure that you don’t miss essential distinctions and concepts when you’re studying. It also serves as an excellent summary and reminder of what was said during class! Start by colouring in blocks of text with highlighters; once you finish, go back through your notes and circle or underline essential points using different colours.
4) Use symbols
When taking notes from a book or other document, make sure you’re not simply jotting down information—but also drawing diagrams and charts that can help make sense of it all. For example, if you’re studying philosophy, try diagramming famous thought experiments. If you’re studying biology, draw flowcharts that explain a vital cell structure or process. Diagrams and charts aren’t just a great way to keep your notes organized—they can also help embed a subject matter in your mind more deeply. After all, the more senses you involve in studying a subject, the better recall you’ll have of it.
5) Draw diagrams and charts
Use diagrams and charts to create a family tree type of concept for your notes. Graphs are best reserved for subjects that cover many keywords or concepts that can all be tied into a common theme. It’s a new way to learn and present information, which in turn boosts enthusiasm.
It’s common for people who are new to studying efficiently to focus on what notes they should take, but it’s far more vital that you figure out how you can make your notes easier for yourself. Make sure you’re planning your study time in advance and taking notes as simple as possible. Staying organized is also essential, so make sure you’re keeping all of your materials—i.e., books, papers, etc.—in one place.