In college, there are many skills that a student requires in order to become successful academically. Of the many different skills, note taking is one of the most important. Good notes allow a student to have better study habits, and in turn, perform better on their tests and exams. However, the art and skill of note taking is not an easy thing to acquire. Following these effective note taking tips student become a successful note taker. Being able to take good notes is also an important way of training your brain to identify important information. These steps include:
- Getting the right materials
- Mentally preparing yourself
- Reviewing and editing
What you will need to be able to take good notes are the following materials: pen (black, blue, and red), pencil, a good eraser, paper, highlighter, and the correct reading material. Different colored pens can help you differentiate between particular subject matter in a lecture, or jot down side comments which will become clearer later on. Pencils and erasers are typically used for math courses, as it is very common to make mistakes while doing specific problems. However, it is perfectly fine to take notes with a pencil instead of a pen, and there are even different colored pencils and pencil leads to choose from. Paper is obviously needed to take notes on, but there are different types that a student can choose from.
College ruled and wide ruled paper have different widths between the lines for students who prefer writing smaller or larger. Highlighters do just what their name implies: they are used to highlight the most important information in your subject material. A caution: many students tend to highlight entire paragraphs, and this is a bad habit to pick up as too much highlighting can distract from any useful information you might have gone over. Instead of highlighting an entire paragraph, try drawing highlighted brackets around the sides of the paragraph instead. And lastly, it is always important to have the correct reading material to take notes from in order to make sure your notes are accurate and pertain to the class lectures.
When taking notes, many students tend to sit back, and copy what their professor writes on the board. Although this may help you pass the class, it is not the most efficient way to take notes. Good note taking involves the ability to think of how you as a student can understand the material later on after the class, when you review the notes you took. This requires you to prepare you mind to be able to take notes that may not be similar to those of your professor’s, but rather tailored to your own individual and personal thinking, reading, and studying style.
Review and Editing
It is always important to review and edit (if need be) your notes. There is a difference between reviewing your notes, and studying from them. Reviewing your notes is done only to ensure that what you have written down makes sense, it involves no memorization or studying habits at all. This is done in order to make sure that when the time to study actually comes, you will not find yourself staring quizzically at your notes, wondering what in the world you were thinking at the time you took them.
There’s no one way to take notes in class or develop note-taking skills, but it’s an incredibly important ability to learn—and one that will help you not just throughout school, but throughout your career.