One of the most effective ways to understand and remember your subjects is to take class notes. Often we have messy and unorganized in-class notes, which is difficult to understand. Remember, it has nothing to do with your handwriting, but with the structure. A structured note will help in better remembering the concepts and the topic taught in the class. In fact, you will also score good marks if you make some effective notes of your subjects. In this article, we will explain to you the effective ways of taking your class notes.
What is Note Making?
Note making which can also be termed as note taking is the process of writing down the key points of the topic you are learning or any resource that you want to remember, in a structured and easy way so you can recall the topic easily. Note making involves identifying key pointers, collecting ideas, names, important dates, events, important examples, references, containing useful keywords to give you an overall summary of the source.
The objective of making notes is to highlight the important topics of the resource you want to recall or remember later. Note making strengthens the conceptual learning process and boosts retention. While making notes we should remember to add certain important points only and not go in details.
1. Gather Your Materials for Note-Making
Although it might sound basic, yet it is important to organize and get ready before you head to your class, meeting or lecture. If you want to write with paper and pens, ensure that there are enough blank pages on your notebook. Ensure to carry your glasses (if you have them) so that you can see the blackboard.
2. Review Before Class
Before you join your next class, lecture or meeting, come prepared after reviewing the last notes you made. Why? This method will help you remember where you left and you will pick up easily during your next class. If your teacher or professor asked you to conduct any background reading, ensure you read them and annotate the assignment for better understanding of the theme, concepts or ideas proposed in the reading.
3. Listen Carefully
Do not write every word of the speaker. Instead, listen carefully and try to understand the topic your teacher discusses in the class. Try to understand the information during the class. By doing so, you will not have to work hard while you review your notes.
4. Ask Questions
Focus on what the teacher is teaching, and ask questions if you fail to understand. Determine the best time to ask questions and raise your hand. Never feel ashamed to ask questions. Your teacher will appreciate your active listening skills and would ensure that you understand the topic. If you found something confusing during the class and failed to ask the same, remember, you will find it twice as confusing while you review, this will improve your note making skills .
5. Focus on the Keywords
The most important change you can make while improving your note taking skills is focusing solely on taking down the keywords and concepts. During the process, identify the most relevant information that the topic carries such as the dates, names, definitions and theories. Think what you can retain such as what you want to learn from the particular class, lecture or webinar. Lastly, focus on collecting new information, rather than taking notes of the known ones.
6. Apply the “Question, Answer, Evidence” Method
It is the most effective method of taking down the notes. Instead of copying line by line, listen actively and understand what the speaker is trying to convey. After this, formulates the notes in a series of questions and then answers the same questions. You can also provide specific examples from the text to draw a conclusion. The strategy will help you in recording all the relevant information in a concise and easy to ready read format.
7. Take Shorthand Notes
You need to develop your own system of shorthand writing, which will help you in writing more efficiently and you can avoid falling behind in the class. For instance, you can write “wd’’ for would or write “+” for “and”. Remember to plan in such a way so that you can decipher your shorthand writing later. Alternatively, you can carry a recording device and record what the teacher says. This is convenient if the speaker speaks very fast.
8. Make the Notes Visually Appealing
A messy, unorganized note is difficult to read, and hence it is important to make the notes clean and appealing. You can keep separate exercise books for separate subjects and make notes for every class from a fresh page. Taking notes that you cannot read later after the class is sheer waste of time and hence, it is better to ensure that your handwriting is legible. Use wide margins on the sides of the page with the help of a ruler and a pen. Do not forget to use symbols and diagrams when required. Symbols like arrows, boxes and dots, along with the use of diagrams, charts and other visual aids help in better retaining the concepts, especially if you are a visual learner.
9. Color Codes for Important Information
Most people love to add a splash of color to their notes, believing that it would help them in retaining the information easily. In fact, the color stimulates the creative part of your brain, making them more interesting and easier to retain. Try to use colored pens for the notes. For instance, write the questions in red, definitions in blue and conclusions in green.
10. Take Notes from Your Textbook
After the class or lecture, supplement your notes with the information available over in the textbooks. Look for the materials presented in the book such as the introduction, conclusion, the headers and subheaders, charts, graphs and conclusions before jumping directly into the text. Read the text actively and highlight the keywords, facts, concepts and important quotes. Now make notes of the highlighted information.
11. Review Your Notes Later in the Day
Review the notes you prepared the same day. Doing so, will help you in better retention. Fill the blanks if you think you missed on some from your class. Besides, you can summarize the entire information at the bottom of the page.
12. Try Explaining the Notes to Yourself
Conduct a test and explain the same notes to yourself. Look for the number of important details you can remember and read the notes to recap the forgotten information.
After you prepare the notes, do not forget to memorize them. You can do it in three different ways. You can memorize it line by line, or make a story with all the information. Lastly, you can use a mnemonic device.