Taking Notes in College: Professional Tips

by in Other

Whenever you come to class, there is a high chance you will need to take notes. Unless you are having a test, your professor will probably attempt to shove some information in your head. It is not hard to write down the lecture, but it is much harder to make such notes which will be crystal clear in a week’s time.

In this article I will share some of the most essential techniques which will help you become a note-taking professional and breeze through the college years as a result.

Choose Your Method

There are miscellaneous note-taking styles, and I will need to write a book to cover all of them. In this short guide I will focus on the most popular and practical ones.

First of all, it is the outline method. Basically, it involves you scribing down the main idea and the indents which serve to expand it. So, if you have ever created a bullet list, you’ve used this method. It is quite convenient and familiar, but it has its downsides. For example, it is very linear and hierarchical, meaning that it will not suit the concepts of a more flexible nature. And let’s face it, nobody likes reading through lists. Therefore, this method may prevent you from carefully focusing on your notes for revision.

Secondly, it is the mind-mapping. You are to place the main idea in the center of the page and branch out from it. This technique is fun and entertaining, as your notes can take upon an interesting form of a tree or some animal. However, it is much harder to discern hierarchy of concepts when using this method. Moreover, it can simply become harder for you to find the necessary bit of information, as you will not write down ideas in the order.

Last but not least is the Cornell technique. Before you start, you’ve got to separate your notebook page into three divisions – for notes, cues and summary. Notes are, well, for notes, cues are for questions which would inevitable emerge in the course of the lecture, and summary is just a brief overview of the lecture you just visited. This method is much more organized than the outline one, but it definitely requires more work.

Write in Your Own Words

Try not to just mindlessly copy what your professor says, but rather comprehend his ideas and elucidate them in your own words. This will boost the productivity of your working memory and ensure a better understanding in the long run.

Moreover, it is important to write rather than type. According to Princeton research of 2014, when you type, you get to record much more info, but at the same time you are later able to reproduce much less. So, it is better to leave out some details and focus on the most essential facts in your note-taking process.

Be Prepared for the Class

It sounds obvious, but many still make this mistake, so I have to mention it. The key component of your note-taking success is having a pen that works and enough space in your notebook. So, go to the store now and replenish your supplies.

In addition, it is crucial that you have an understanding of what the professor is going to deliver and how it related to what you already learned. It will help you write down only the essentials.

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