May 12 2015

The Best Ways to Make Notes

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Note-taking is one of the most important skills a student has at his or her disposal, so it is therefore crucial to know how to do it effectively to both maximize your time and your efforts.  Here are some tips that can make note-taking a more successful practice.

Make sure you’re properly prepared.


If you get all of the tools you will need to take notes assembled and ready before the teacher even walks into the classroom, then you are better prepared to take notes.  It sounds so simple, but being organized helps you clear your head and allows you to better focus on the task at hand.


Make sure you have separate notebooks for each subject, and that they are appropriately sized to your needs or preference.  You also want to make sure that you have two pens in different colors, so as to mark in different-colored ink the information that you want to be able to pick out more easily later on.


If you’re using a laptop instead of a notebook, make sure that it is fully charged before class and that, if possible, you are seated near an outlet in case you need to top up your battery.  Though, studies have shown that you retain more information when you write your notes out by hand, so you may want to opt for a pad and pen, as opposing to transcribing everything you hear through a digital medium.


Additionally, when you write long-hand, it is often impossible to write down everything the teacher says when he or she says it, so you’re forced to pick out the more important points of the material.
If you need glasses for distance, don’t forget to have those at the ready as well, along with a microfiber cloth to clean them off, should the need arise.


Review Prior Notes


Before you attend your class or lecture, it is a good idea to re-read your notes from the previous session a refresher of what to expect from this next session.  Plus, the more you re-read your notes, the better able you will be to commit them to memory.


Ask Questions


Don’t be afraid to raise your hand if you need the teacher to repeat himself or herself, or if you need something further explained.  The more material that you’re confident about before the test, the less time you’ll have to spend trying to understand it when you’re reviewing the material beforehand.

Think About What You Want to Retain


When taking notes, it’s important to evaluate the information that you are receiving and determine what you want to remember most.  While you may be tempted to write down every word you hear, the point of the lecture can possibly be boiled down to a few key points that will help you to better remember what you’ve heard overall, as opposed to trying to capture every word.


Make Use of Shorthand


Shorthand can be a lifesaver when you’re taking notes.  You don’t have to know official shorthand to be successful at it; things like abbreviating phrases that are used frequently in class or writing terms like “with” as “w/” or “and” as a plus sign can really help you out in the long run.