Why Taking Great Notes Matters
Effective notes are a crucial part of your academic success. Many of the benefits of great notes come from the actual process of writing them. Borrowed notes are no substitute for being there and taking them yourself. You can learn to take notes in a way that will help you learn more, remember more, and improve your grades.
One of the most important skills for taking great notes is to find the right note-taking style to suit both you and the material being covered. You can even use a mixture of styles as the lectures changes.
Outline Style Notes
- Outline style notes are best for material that is given in a very organized manner.
- For more information, see this example of Outline style notes.
Cornell Style Notes
Mind Map / Concept Map Notes
- Concept map or minding mapping notes could be used to visually illustrate the relationship of concepts within a chapter
- This method can also be useful to create a brief overview of a video shown in class.
- For more information, see this example of Map style notes and check out how to take Mind Map notes and how to take Concept Map notes.
- Preview the material to be a step ahead! Before class, look over the textbook material that will be covered in a lecture. This serves to prime the brain for the information that is coming.
- Sit up front and sit up straight to position yourself for success. Sitting near the front can help decrease distractions. Sitting up straight signals to your brain that something important is about to happen.
- Visualize the material, especially if you’re not an auditory learner. Visualize the material as it is presented. Include drawings and illustrations in your notes.
- Review your notes after class. Set aside time to review your notes. It is best to complete a review within a day after taking the notes. Reviewing them right after class allows for you to fill in any information that you were not able to write down during the lecture.
- Go over your notes with a friend to help to fill in any gaps that you might have in your notes and to give you a chance to make necessary corrections.
- Review your notes regularly. Reviewing notes as often as possible and even on a daily basis will mean that active learning begins right away. There will be no need for “re-learning” the material just before the test. Plus, the repetition will significantly increase retention.