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How to take notes in college

Posted 24 September 2013
two students taking notes

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The necessity of having good note-taking skills cannot be denied. Note-taking is one of the many important skills that a student needs to master. Note-taking helps you record important materials from your lessons. Writing down information in your own words also enables you to remember them much faster. If you have a set of detailed notes on what you have learnt throughout the year, you are halfway to passing exams with flying colours.

The necessity of having good note-taking skills cannot be denied. Note-taking is one of the many important skills that a student needs to master. Note-taking helps you record important materials from your lessons. Writing down information in your own words also enables you to remember them much faster. If you have a set of detailed notes on what you have learnt throughout the year, you are halfway to passing exams with flying colours. However, these benefits can only be gained through effective note-taking methods. Bad note-taking practices, on the other hand, can jeopardise your study. If you are too busy taking notes to listen to your teacher, your note-taking technique is poor. If you find yourself buried under piles of notes that are not particularly useful, you need to improve your note-taking skills. If you are unsatisfied with your note-taking skills, some of the tips below may be able to help you sharpen your skills while studing in the UK.

WHAT TO USE TO TAKE NOTES

 

Pen and paper are the classic. But remember to use what you find comfortable with. Some students prefer to write in pencil as it can be easily corrected. Some may find pencil smudges too easily for their liking. Many students prefer notebooks as they are harder to misplace; some choose to use loose papers as they are easier to organise in folders/binders. It is entirely up to you to choose whichever tools you feel more familiar with.
If you are afraid that your hand-writings is illegible, you can use a laptop/tablet to take notes. Just remember to check with your teachers to make sure that it is permissible for you to use your laptop/tablets in class. There are many excellent note-taking applications and programmes. MS Word is a favourite due to its simplicity. If you are extremely organised and wish to have all your notes in one place and synced across all your devices, MS OneNote is more suitable. MS OneNote also allows you to clip screenshots and record audio commentaries. Evernote is a brilliant alternative. If you prefer digitalised notes, don’t forget to look into these wonderful softwares.

NOTE-TAKING FORMS

 

There are many note-taking forms. The most often used is linear notes. Linear notes are information written down the page, usually in bullet points, in the order that you receive them in. If you take linear notes, don’t forget to use titles and headings to help you identify which section/lesson the information belongs to when you review your notes later. Underline and highlight keywords as well as main concepts. It is also advisable for you to leave some spaces, so that you can add more information or comments later.
Another form of notes is mind maps. Mind maps, sometimes known as spidergrams, have the topic in the centre of the page. This will draw your eyes immediately to the key topic when you revise your lessons. Using mind maps, you don’t organise your information chronologically. All information is arranged in terms of hierarchy of similarity or association. Mind maps appeal greatly to visual learners, as they use more diagrams, images and symbols than linear notes.

TIPS AND ADVICES

 

No matter which tools you use and which form your notes are in, these tips are universally applicable:

 

●    Colour-code your notes. This helps you organise your notes as well as improve memory retention and recall.

●    Develop a system of abbreviation. You will not have enough time in class to dot every i and cross every t, so abbreviate whatever you can. There is no need to write ‘representative democracy’ when rep dem suffices Using arrows as shorthand for ‘increase’ or ‘decrease’ will save you a lot of time. Just don’t forget to keep a list of abbreviations and their meanings in case you forget.

●    Don’t try to take notes of everything. Don’t clog your paper and memory with useless details, concentrate on essential materials.

●    Date and title your notes. Keeping notes organised is a good note-taking practice.

 

CONCLUSION

It is important to keep in mind that each individual has their own way of taking notes that is useful to them. A particular method that your classmate finds effective doesn’t guarantee that you would like it too. If you do not know how to take notes, don’t hesitate to give each note-taking method a try until you find the one that is perfect for you. Once you have mastered your note-taking skills, you will find lessons much easier to remember and revision less scary than it would be otherwise.

Autumn Hoang

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