To take notes in college can be so overwhelming! Knowing where to start and what to write down in a large lecture is incredibly difficult! I developed a strategy that worked really well for me; I get all the information I need, plus I learn it better. I’ve put together some do’s and don’t’s for good note taking, as well as my personal strategy.
DON’T use your laptop to take notes. You can’t write down everything you need to, plus you’re less likely to be engaged with your professor if you’re sitting behind your screen.
DO hand-write your notes. Physically writing down your notes makes them stick better in your brain—it’s science. You can also add doodles, examples on the side, and format quickly.
DON’T write every thing down. Your professors will say a lot, but it’s important not to write whole sentences or their long ramblings.
DO make lists and bullet points. Pick out the important information and jot it down. If you don’t catch something, star it and ask your professor after class.
DON’T go crazy with highlighting, formatting, or switching colors. This gets confusing and overwhelming during class.
DO emphasis important things. If a professor repeats something, writes it down, or specifically points it out, make sure to underline/highlight/circle it so you remember its importance!
Now that we’ve got some basic tips out of the way, I’m going to share my personal note-taking strategy. I’m a fairly good notetaker; I write quickly and have learned to pick up on important information. To really learn my notes, I have a good system!
I take notes in a regular composition notebook in class. I use pencil so I’m able to erase quickly, but I just jot down every important thing I hear. For my professors that post their slides online for students to access, I write down slide numbers or incomplete titles to save time. For professors who do not post them, I write down more.
Within twenty-four hours of that class (because that’s when it’s still fresh on my mind!), I recopy my notes. To make it more fun and interesting for myself, I use a set of colored markers. This also helps with formatting. For example, all the major titles are in purple; subtitles are in blue; small terms are in lighter blue; etc.
I’ll pull up my professors’ slides on my laptop and use my notebook to make sure I get all the information I wrote down. During this time, I draw conclusions and make connections. This is actually one of the best ways for me to study, but it doesn’t even feel like I’m studying!
I only use one side of the papers and I make sure to write the chapter and page number in the upper corner. This way, I can look at all my notes at once and keep them in order. It’s really handy to write subtitles/topics on the side so you can easily flip through them.
It’s certainly seems like a lot of work to do notes this way, but it really saves you a long time when it comes to studying. These really work for me, and I hope they work for you, too!
What’s your system for taking notes? Do you think my system would work for you?