One major #KeytoSuccess in school and beyond is taking effective notes. Sounds like a simple task, right? Wrong. Oftentimes our teachers and professors speak too quickly, making it a challenge to take down everything they’re saying. Other times they provide us with information that is actually unnecessary for the purpose of succeeding in the course but we write it down anyway. So, how do we strike the perfect balance between writing down everything and writing down nothing at all? This blog post will let you know how to beat this common pitfall and help you learn much more about effective note taking! Here’s to crushing school with TMG (again)!
- The Beginning Stages
Every note is the opportunity for a new, beautiful beginning. Each page is the chance to perfect your skills while simultaneously making the page dazzle with new information. Step one to taking effective notes is to start off every note on a new page with the date and page number. Keeping track of your notes via the date will help you know the chronological order of course content so that when it comes time for that test you know exactly where to look for the material.
2. Highlight, highlight, highlight
The best thing to highlight first on your page is the title of your note. Doing so signals to you what the subject of the note is and helps you to begin to organize the other information on the page. By writing down and highlighting the title of your note you will get a sense of what information you should and should not include on the rest of your page, you will begin to ask yourself: is this information relevant to the subject’s title? Pro tip: don’t think that the only thing you should highlight is the title—key terms, relevant problems and quotations are also fair game.
3. Rewrite Your Notes
The best way to retain information is to re-write your notes (preferably by hand), after class. Rewriting your notes in your own words is also a plus–you are synthesizing the information given to you by someone else and translating it in a way that allows YOU to BEST understand it. This strategy to note taking also helps to prepare you for any future evaluations because you will have already studied for an upcoming test while perfecting the scribbles that you may have written down in class.
4. Create Your Own Code
Teachers and professors can often speak quickly and provide you with too much information to write down. Creating your own short forms will help you take notes in a faster, shorter and condensed manner that will not compromise the note’s quality. You can even have some FUN while making your own shorthand by creating a language that is unique to you—stars, arrows, abbreviations and more are all elements of solid short form creation.
5. Don’t Stress!
Just because the teacher or professor is talking, doesn’t mean that you have to be writing. Rather than copying down all information given, taking note of definitions, facts, enumerated lists, charts and information repeated or written on the chalkboard can be considered useful. Don’t get too hung up over your note-taking abilities—effective note taking is a skill that, like anything, will develop over time. For now, focus on following TMG’s tips to help get you started taking effective notes.