Get the most out of your classes by perfecting your note-taking skills. Whether you’re recording key lecture points or jotting down important facts from your textbook, it’s up to you to develop a method that works for you. When it is crunch-time for mid-terms and finals, you’ll be glad you did.
Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your notes.
Come to class prepared
To help keep your notes organized, it’s a good idea to have either a 3-ring binder or a notebook for each class. Using a binder allows you to easily add material like handouts, homework and returned tests. If you prefer, go paperless and use a laptop or tablet to take notes, just make sure you are charged up and ready for class. Also, consider keeping highlighters or Post-it® flags nearby to point out important concepts.
What to write down
- Dates of events: Writing down dates will help you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened and understand the context of an event.
- Names of people: Being able to link names with key ideas helps you to recall important concepts later.
- Theories: Any statement of a theory should be recorded — theories are the main points of most classes.
- Definitions: Any word that you are unfamiliar with should be looked up and notated.
- Images and exercises: Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, or when an in-class exercise is performed, jot down a few words to record the experience.
- Other stuff: If your instructor writes something down, says “this is important” or “you need to understand this,” be sure to note it in some way because you’ll likely see it again. Pay attention to other student’s comments, too — try to capture and summarize comments that add to your understanding.
- Your own questions: Come to class with notations about concepts you do not understand so you can ask the professor later. Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you.
Note Taking Techniques
There are several different ways to take notes; however, there are a few tried and true principals that remain the core of good note taking techniques.
Outlining is an effective way to create a hierarchy of concepts and to take notations from books.
Mind Mapping may be a way to get the most out of class discussions or lectures. They are more fluid and do not follow a strict format. You can go back after the fact and organize the ideas in a more structured layout after you write down all the needed notes.
The Cornell Note system seems to be the new favorite way of taking notes. It is perfect for showing where to get more defined notes by reviewing key concepts and after you take your notes, you go back, review and come up with a summary.
No matter how you like to note your ideas in class, you should see that doing so will better you knowledge of the material to ensure you get the most of you classes. What is your favorite note taking techniques? Share in the comments blow.
- “Taking Notes: 5 College Success Tips.” Jerzs Literacy Weblog. 29 Aug. 2012. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
- “Note Taking/Outline Format.” – Wikibooks, Open Books for an Open World. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
- “Mind Map Notes.” Mind Map Notes. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
- “Cornell Notes.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.