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From an early age, we have been made to copy all that the teacher wrote on the blackboard, word for word. And while the teacher explains it, you are too busy copying all that stuff down that the likelihood of actually learning anything is zilch. And when it comes to revising these notes it’s just too confusing and it takes a huge effort figuring out what all your notes really meant. And year in, year out that has been the case. But if I was to say that if you took better notes you’ll be able to learn the topic quicker and memorize that stuff for a longer period, and because of this get better marks and ranks . And better note taking will also help you outside of the class too; here is how you can succeed at work with greater ease too. It would be nice 🙂 . These points are all it will take to get you there, for all topics, and be it from PowerPoint, your text book or a lecture.
1. Use Bullet Points
Stay away from writing pages and pages of sentences rather place emphasis on noting down facts, stats and main ideas into a list of bullet points. When you come back to your notes later all those long pages of writing make it hard to read and decipher where one point starts and ends. A list of bullet points under headings are well spaced, major points become concise and easy to comprehend.
2. Use Abbreviations and Symbols
Like SMS language, abbreviations and symbols cut down on time. It also allows you to not be so fussed about needing to get every word down, be grammatically correct and have full complete sentences. What matters most is that you are would be able to understand it. Thus, provides more time in class for you to listen to the teacher and understand the topic at hand too. Special mention: for words that are usually not abbreviated, create one yourself. For example, often used names and topic words throughout the lecture can be noted as this John Smith = JS or calculations = cal. And to not forget what they meant, write it at the top of the page for later reference.
3. Create Visual Appealing Notes
- Use different colored pens for headings, questions, key words and anything else of importance. You could also choose to highlight, underline and circle these points.
- When you can determine main parts of your notes at a glance, it tells you that you had made good notes.
- Just remember to keep it consistent so for example you can color code all your questions in red and answers in blue.
4. Review Your Notes
- Take 10 minutes of time within the same day of that lecture to review your notes. It will give you a chance to fill in missing notes you remember. Highlight and underline a bit more. Or add extra notes of value to give your notes greater meaning.
- For revising a textbook, Post It notes or sticky tabs are handy to bookmark pages of importance that you would need to revisit at a later date. Or used for clearly dividing chapters which will save you from the burden of finding specific chapters at a later date too.
- Place question marks at concepts you don’t understand and use this time to clarify them at once. If you were to just let it be then you reduce your chances of fully understanding the topic.
5. Test Your Notes
Make use of your notes. Read to yourself your note headings while covering up the bullet points and try to recall those points. Teach your notes to a friend or tell someone like your parents what you had learned today at class. When we retell it in our own words it helps us to understand and memorize the notes that much more.
It could be pretty tempting to have your notes thrown here and there, or muddled up in between textbooks or what not. But you’ll be a happier student if they were organized for easy access. Folders are an option though I personally like envelope pockets where pages are not torn out over time.
This may feel like a lot to remember but with practice it’ll become second nature. And you may also find that you will develop your own style over time. Best of luck in your studies. 🙂
Until next time.
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