9 Effective Ways of Taking Notes

As a learner, effective notes taking is important as well as crucial. It helps you to stay focused and attentive during lectures in return you will interact better in discussions. Notes-taking helps a person retain particular information for a longer period of time. The process of writing down information helps you to understand the topic better and reinforce your learning. Taking notes and summarizing the information not only allows you to actively engage during lectures but also enhances your listening skills. The notes you take during your class lecture help you to personalize your study notes that you can refer back to when making an assignment, group presentation, or preparing for exams.

Taking notes basically shows the active participation of students. It shows a deep commitment to the learning process and keeps you interested in certain topics. When you get to review your notes you will be able to identify the areas which need more clarification or further studies. It will help you to seek clarification from the teacher and fill in the gaps.

In short, taking notes helps you to interact better during lectures with instructors resulting in active engagement in the classroom, it also helps you retain information in memory and keeps you organized.

Here are 9 ways to write effective notes

We will briefly discuss all the techniques in the sections given below.

The Outline

For students who prefer simplicity in their work, the outline technique is for them. A student can start by taking four to five key points that will cover the whole lecture. Under these points, there will be in-depth sub-points that the respective professor has covered. One thing should be kept in mind that while writing outline notes, you must leave some space for your sub-points beneath the main key points.

This method helps students to follow along during lectures as well as take lecture notes. This type of notes taking method also helps maintain attention during lectures when the professor is teaching.

The MindMap

This type of technique is helpful in taking specific subject notes. For example, chemistry, biology, philosophy, etc where these subjects have interlocking topics and complex abstract ideas.

For example, if you are attending a lecture about viruses, start with the concept in the center and then draw nodes of all the things that are related to viruses like types, structure, host, mode of transmission, vaccine, incubation period and so on. Later, you can go in-depth and add smaller details using colorful sticky notes to make it look attractive and easily understandable. This method saves so much of your time while taking notes.

Flow Notes

This type of method is for aspirants who want to maximize their learning during classroom lecture and later requires minimum time to review it. Flow notes involve the use of arrows, doodles, diagrams, and graphs. In the present method, a student needs to actively learn the topic while jotting down the notes in flowchart form.

For example, in glycolysis, different steps are involved as well as many side reactions are carried out. Using the flow notes method you can easily understand the topic without missing any point that the professor told.

Writing on slides

This method is very effective and easy. If your professor is using slides to teach you all you can do is print them out. The slides give you a base for outlining the process. The professor has done almost half the work for you. All you have to do now is compare notes with books, expand the topic, and write extra information related to topics already present in slides. This method is the step by step walk through the lecture and doesn’t require much effort.

Bullet Journalling

This type of note-taking technique is for those students who are more into aesthetics. In this method, you turn your notes into a beautiful representation of your thinking process. You can even combine this technique with other note-taking processes.

One drawback of taking notes like journaling is you can’t work out aesthetics, spending so much time on decorating can miss out on the necessary information that your professor is telling during class lectures. Making taking notes a difficult process and scribbling difficult. To overcome this problem is to take notes during class in the outline method and then organize them with details in your journal for proper understanding and reviewing.

The Chart Method

This type of method as names indicate allows students to make columns to write down the respective information. This type of method is used for subjects that need to cover a lot of facts and relationships between topics. These notes are highly organized and can be easily reviewed later for making assignments or preparing for exams. It also highlights the key points of the main topic.

The page is divided into columns with the main heading on top of the columns and related information is written below the main headings. Certain details are jotted down underneath the specific column. When the professor starts the new topic, move down to a new row and then begin writing again the details.

Summarizing and use of code words

This method helps you to be a little bit more creative and summarize notes in your own words. It involves paraphrasing what you hear so that it becomes memorable and makes sense to you. It involves skipping the use of unnecessary words like ‘a, and ‘the’. In this method, a student needs to paraphrase everything in simple compact form except where information is needed to be noted in exact form. All the information like main points, cues, and lecture details is written in one compost form.

It’s an effective method because notes are neatly organized, summarized, and easy to review. It also allows you to pull out major ideas and concepts that were told during the lecture.

Use of colors, underlining, circles, etc

Writing notes in simple form and then use of colors to highlight the main points, diagrams, and important sections. Different colors are used to specify different links in certain topics. You need to avoid too much color coding during lectures as this practice is not time-friendly and chances of missing out the important information are high.  This technique requires a lot of time and concentration, so it’s more useful when you do most of the highlighting and underlining when you are revising your notes later at home.

Concept maps and diagrams

In order to identify the key information, examples, definitions, or other important materials you can draw your own concept maps or diagrams to understand the process methods. Concept maps depict the suggested relationships between different concepts. Concept maps are most of the time used by instructional designers, engineers, technical writers, and others to organize and structure knowledge while diagrams are mostly part of biology or biosciences.  Concept maps and diagrams are especially useful for students who learn better visually, although they can benefit any type of learner.

For Example, if you have to explain the process of a virus’s lytic and lysogenic cycle. Instead of filling a blank page with too much text, you can simply write a concept note and then draw diagrams to help understand the process better. This method is efficient in terms of saving time as you can use abbreviations and symbols to label the diagrams.

The Golden Rule

Once you are done with writing notes, never stuff them aside to be never viewed later. No matter what technique you adopt, make sure you review them the same day and organize them properly.  Studies show that those who don’t review will forget 40 percent of the information learned after the first 24 hours, and 60 percent after 48 hours.

In short, better grades start with better notes.

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