The main challenge of a student is dealing with lots of information at once and trying to remember at least the most important parts. This is where taking notes in class comes in handy. It could be of a great help to students, especially when the material is completely new and quite complex. Unfortunately, most students these days don’t know how to take notes, often simply taking pictures with their smartphones. If you are doing that too, then you are just wasting your time — taking notes requires your attention and active involvement. Let us see some useful advice on effective note-taking below.
Keep Your Notes Short
For a start, your notes should be brief. They serve to help you recreate the material, not replicate the information during the lecture or in a book. It is advisable to write down keywords rather than full sentences — provide the context, and the message will be easily recalled. Use abbreviations or even symbols for certain words or phrases. You can come up with those yourself or use standardized ones. Just be sure to remember which symbols stand for what.
Organize Your Notes on Paper
Find the pattern which appeals to you the most. It doesn’t need to be linear note-taking — you can also experiment with different alignment or structure. For a great number of people, mind-mapping turns out to be the most effective technique that allows them not only to write down the key concepts, but also show connections between these concepts.
Don’t Use Many Tools or Techniques All at Once
You probably want to record as much information as possible, without missing anything particularly important. Have you heard about using pens of different colors for different pieces of information? Or maybe you have tried using colored felt pens to highlight certain ideas? Forget about these techniques. In fact, they often appear not just completely useless, but are also outrageously time-consuming. If you have some time at home, you can make highlights when working with your notes, but this is not cost-effective.
Make use of your smartphone. There are lots of note-taking apps which make it easier for you to organize the information. For example, you can use Evernote. It, along with Simplenote and a bunch of others, allows adding tags, which makes searching for your notes extremely easy. Most of the note-taking apps let users add pictures as well, so you are encouraged to use your camera.
Listen More, Write Less
What you really should do when you’re perceiving new information, is keeping perceiving it. Sometimes, taking notes just distracts you from your professor’s lecture or a book chapter. Consider this tip especially when the professor’s flow is too quick or the book is already well-structured. All in all, you can allow some time to take notes afterwards.
Learning how to take notes should be an essential part of your studying, but not the main activity. You should bear in mind that note-taking for its own sake is impractical and counter-productive. It should only serve as an aid in studying, when you are trying to perceive and remember new information, so that you can easily revoke it again after some time (before the exam). Keep your notes short, organize them in a preferable way, and don’t hesitate to use technology tools to help you take notes in an effective manner.