As we’re getting closer and closer to finals, are you finding that you still aren’t taking the best notes? Don’t worry! There are so many guides for taking perfect notes, but it can be hard to sort through all of the advice. Keep reading for 10 note taking tips that are ACTUALLY helpful!
1. Organize in categories.
There are two things you need to organize when taking notes. First, you have to have organized stationery. Instead of a spiral notebook, use a binder and loose leaf notebook paper so you can move papers around, categorize notes accordingly, and navigate with ease. Secondly, the notes themselves have to be organized. There are multiple note taking methods you can follow.
2. Save time and abbreviate.
To save time and stay with the lecture, abbreviate large words or ideas. For example, instead of psychology write psy or psych, and instead of Newton’s Laws of Motion, write NLOM.
Highlight or use symbols (such as *) to indicate terms, dates, definitions and anything else of importance noted by your book or professor.
4. Color code as much as possible.
If you are a visual person, color code your notes by sections or importance. You can have different colored pens and/or highlighters.
5. Use pens!
Pens typically write smoother for swift note taking.
6. Don’t doodle.
Unless the sketch is representing something vital to the notes, it is best to not doodle when taking notes. Doodling takes your focus away from what is being said and can distract your studying when you look back at the notes.
7. Type them up (after class).
If you are a sloppy writer or can’t seem to organize your notes, type them up. This is a little extra effort, but typing your notes after writing them down allows you to refine them and you are getting the information a second time which helps your understanding of the material. Print your notes and dissect them, highlighting key elements and writing any further notes or ideas you have.
8. Write in your own words!
I always hated it when the teacher said to write something in my own words, especially when I believed the concept to be pretty straightforward. In this case, I promise it is good advice. If you aren’t understanding all the science jargon from your book or the terminologies your professor is spouting off, write down what you understand, and then go back after class and review with the professor or other students. You can further define terms and ideas when you have time and resources.
9. Eliminate distractions.
In class and while you are studying, make sure your phone is up and any unnecessary materials are put away and off of your work space. When you are not writing, keep your eyes on the professor or the board. Maintaining focus is key in ensuring you are hearing everything the professor is saying and writing down all important information. This has been the most helpful of all note taking tips for me.
10. Write one-sided.
Writing on one side of the paper allows you to have everything up front and center when reviewing your notes. You do not have to keep flipping back and forth with your notes. If you like to save paper though (as do I), I would like to emphasize the importance of tip #1. You can organize papers in a way where the back of one page is relevant to the front of another so that when you open your binder, the pages are right next to each other.