Notes, notes, notes. Being a student means that you take a lot of notes, unless you’re one of those lucky photographic memory type people who seem to be able to remember everything. Or worse, you’re my younger brother who could get through his whole life without every opening a book to learn something, but like me, you can’t just ignore him and his talent for being a smart little slacker.
Whether you want to or not, it’s pretty hard to get around taking notes. If you want to pass that test or create a study guide you need notes to go build and support that knowledge you’re trying to gain. I’m going to share a few tricks I’ve learned over my many years in college.
Before you can take notes you need to be organized about your assignments and readings. Check out my post on making an assignment tracker. Once you’re organized with your assignments and readings it is easier to go to class and take notes that will actually help you. When you haven’t prepared you try to write every single thing down because you don’t know what is truly relevant later on or about the subject.
Another important tip is read everything twice. I’ll admit I don’t do this as often because with five different classes I would spend more time reading than anything else if I read everything twice. However, there are exceptions or tricks to read everything like you read it twice. With textbooks you can read through the chapter once for the content and then on the second read through highlight or take note of anything that is bolded or written in italics as this information usually the most vital from the chapter. Check at the end of the chapter for questions about the chapter and the content covered. If you can answer those questions then you probably have a good understanding on the content and will be prepared.
For readings that aren’t like the large textbook readings I recommend reading through them and highlighting or writing down anything that truly stands out or catches your attention. After you’ve read through the reading go back and look at what you highlighted or wrote down. Is there anything else around the section that you should make sure to highlight? Also, if your teacher goes over the readings like this in class then you should keep a different colored highlighter to highlight what they consider significant. This will help you to learn their style and make sure you are grasping the concepts.
Compare Your Notes
When you’re getting ready to work on the study guide provided by your teacher or making your own study guide it is important to use both your class and reading notes. You want to make sure the information is consistent between both. There’s nothing worse than having two different definitions for an important term and not knowing which is correct. Trust me, Google isn’t always going to make it easier for you either. If you’re finding discrepancies you should review your textbook or contact your teacher clarification. If you contact your teacher make sure you are prepared and know exactly what you need to ask. They’ll appreciate this and be able to help you more.
Collaborating with a classmate when it’s time to make a study guide is the best. The main reason is that everyone learns differently so you may understand something better than they do and vice versa. You also probably have different note taking styles and so you may pick up on different information. Google Docs is a great way to collaborate to share notes or build a study guide. If a teacher provides a study guide you can copy the information to the Google Doc and from there fill in the answers.
Do you have a certain way you take notes or uses them to study?