The Art of Taking Notes

The Art of Taking Notes

“You can see that there is scarcely an observable fact unworthy of mention in your notes, and yet you could easily spend more time scribbling than watching, and that would defeat the purpose. So be selective, don’t be compulsive, and enjoy your note-taking” – Robert Pyle. If you are a student at any level of education, you probably live and die by your notes. Whether you’re cramming in the night before a test or you are just looking for a refresher on the material, your notes can make or break your semester. But are you truly making the most of your notes or are you just writing down everything the teacher says? It is important to know how to properly take notes in class because as stated earlier, they are essential to your success as a student. Taking good notes will allow you to prepare better for any tests, quizzes, or exams you will have to take, they will engage your mind in class and help you focus on the main important points, and will improve your retention of the material.

There are multiple different methods that you can use that will help you to create more well rounded notes in class, so we are going to discuss three of them. For starters, if it is available to you, get a copy of the lecture from your professor or online, before class. Doing so will allow you to get a head start on the content you will be learning in that class and can pinpoint the major topics that will be discussed. The first method is known as the Cornell Method, this involves making two column’s, one for key words and phrases, and another to write the fine details associated with that word/phrase. The bottom of the page is left open for you to summarize all the information you have on that topic.

Here is a video that goes into more detail about how to use the Cornell Method for taking notes:

The second method of note taking is called a Mind-Map. This method involves taking a subject or topic and branching out into sub-topics associated with the main idea. Students who are visual learners will find the most success with this method as it can be formatted in each individuals personal preference.

Here are two examples of what a mind-map may look like:

Image result for mind map
https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/examples/mind-map
Image result for mind map
https://www.mindmeister.com/blog/mind-maps-essay-writing/

As you can see these two are quite different in the way they are structured. The example on the left is more organized and concise whereas the example on the right is more in depth in the sense that it chains multiple ideas together. However, they both branch out from one main subject.

The final note taking strategy is called the Outlining Method.

Outlining Method

https://www.gvsu.edu/cms4/asset/91D2F15F-DAF4-C2F7-B659ECCACE9E7375/1five_methods_of_notetaking.docx_updated_7-09.pdf

The outlining method is great for students who don’t like their notes to be too complicated. It is probably the most basic and organized layout of your notes since it follows the same pattern of the professors power point slides. While this is one of the weaker methods for note taking, it is still a good way for students to make sure they have an outline that they can easily follow when it comes time to study for the big test.

Congratulations! You are well on your way to becoming a more effective note taker, and therefore, a better student. The methods you have learned here are tried and true and with some practice you will become a master of notes. It is up to you to decide which of these techniques is best for you, although you could always use a combination of all three. They are all flexible and can be used with any subject.

Leave a comment or send us an e-mail with any feedback you may have. Did you find these helpful? Have you utilized any other study methods that you find effective? Feel free to share your experience. Check back here regularly for new updates that will surely help you hone the skills you need to become a more effective learner!

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