Taking good notes is an invaluable skill to any college student. In order to succeed in a class, you must memorize and understand the material to the best of your ability, and one effective way to do this is to develop good note taking skills.
Follow these tips to help perfect your class notes and ace exams and quizzes:
1. Take your own notes.
It’s important that you take your own notes as often as possible. If you rely on your classmates’ notes, you risk missing valuable information due to illegible handwriting, an inattentive classmate, or a misunderstanding of the material on the classmate’s part. Do not leave your education in your classmates’ hands.
2. Always copy down lists.
Not sure what’s important enough to write down and what can be ignored? Generally, if a professor creates a list of information (ex. Three rules, seven characteristics, four famous accomplishments, etc.), the information will likely appear on an exam. Lists are easily testable, but lucky for you, they’re also easily memorized.
3. Reword everything.
If possible, write your professor’s notes in your own words. First, this ensures that you’ll be able to read through them quickly and easily later on. Also, if you write everything down in your professor’s exact words, you risk simply committing the material to paper mindlessly, but rewording the information requires you to think critically about the material as you learn it. This helps you to learn the material earlier and faster.
4. Be short.
One of the most important rule of note taking is to write in shorthand. Avoid writing in complete sentences at all costs! Not only is this extremely time consuming (and cramp-inducing), but you also risk spending so much time writing down one point that you aren’t able to pay attention to more important information.
5. Use your resources.
There are many resources available to help you take good notes. For example, if your professor uploads PowerPoint presentations onto Blackboard or some other campus wide information sharing system, print the lectures before class. This allows you the freedom to listen to your professor’s lecture without having to write down every single point, since you’ll already have the lecture printed out and in front of you. Writing the notes the professor forgot to include in the PowerPoint directly on the printed presentation also helps you stay organized by keeping all your notes for one subject in the same place.
6. Read the book.
If your professor assigns a chapter to be read before class, actually completing the assignment could save you time later on. By reading the chapter and taking notes on the information, you can relax a little in class because if your professor covers some of the information from the chapter, you will already have the necessary notes.
By learning how to be a good note taker, you can help to ensure your success as a college student. Taking good notes can boost your grade and improve your overall organizational skills, so it’s a skill you should develop early in your college career.