Taking notes in class is an art. Knowing how to take notes is a useful skill to have when you’re in college. Note-taking helps sharpen your memory by improving your ability to recollect. Taking notes also helps promote your ability to understand. Lecture notes can make good study material, which can help you learn more in less time. Writing down as you listen to a lecture can help you retain information. This will help you remember things you’re taught in class for longer periods of time.
While there’s no universal approach to taking notes, there are some basic practices that can help you structure your notes better. In addition to the note-taking tips we have detailed in How To Take Good Study Notes, here are a few more useful tips:
- Use a 3-ring binder instead of a notebook: This makes it easier for you to reorganize the papers on which you’ve taken notes if you need to. You can also spread out your notes if necessary, which isn’t the case when you use a bound notebook. Things can get complicated if you have to work on an assignment and your notes are not in order.
- Use different binders for different subjects: This will make your notes more accessible. Properly sorted notes can save loads of time and energy. Label your binders. Write your name, class, and subject on the label. These details can help someone return your binder to you in case you lose or misplace it.
- Use different colored pens or highlighters: Use different colors to highlight important points or concepts. Underline the main points or box them to add emphasis. Use visual techniques to draw attention to important information like dates, names, events, etc.
- Use symbols, abbreviations, and notations: It is important to keep up with your professor while you’re taking notes. Using abbreviations, symbols, and notations can help you jot things down quickly. Make sure that what you write down is legible and easy to understand.
- Use a note-taking method: There are several note-taking methods like the Cornell method, flowcharts, mind maps, etc. that you can use to structure your notes in an easily understandable visual format. These can be particularly helpful if your learning style leans towards the visual, aiding you in retaining information better.
- Be attentive: Be present and listen intently. Make sure that you’re comfortably seated. Minimize distractions. Try not to zone out. Switch off your phone if it helps. Note down the important points that your professor writes on the board.
- Review notes: Go through your notes thoroughly to check if there’s something that needs further explanation. If there’s something you didn’t understand, seek clarification. If your professor doesn’t prefer being interrupted, talk to them after the lecture or at least drop them an email or a text message either listing your queries or setting an appointment for clarifying your doubts. Make your questions as specific as possible.
Finally, pay attention to cues from your professor that emphasize on important concepts or points, which could later appear in your exams. Since good lecture notes can help you get exam-ready, learn and use valuable techniques that can help you get better at taking lecture notes. Do you already use any of the tips mentioned in this article? What works best for you? Do share your note-taking tips with us in the comments below.