When it comes to writing notes, there is a huge difference between high school and college. With more freedom over what to write down, deciding what’s important is tough and completely new territory. So, whether it’s about touching up on note-taking skills or learning from scratch, here are some tips on how to have legible and effective notes.
Choose the preferred medium
There are pros and cons to every way of taking notes but the two main ways are writing and typing. Many people prefer a laptop to a book as they can carry around one thing the whole day and have all their notes in one place. It is easier to carry around a laptop and many people do type faster than they write, so typing notes could be a great option. Writing also has its benefits. Writing makes internalizing things much easier. Seeing your handwriting triggers memory and making the notes in your own words helps even more. Many exams are still handwritten as well, so it’s a good idea to keep those muscles in your hand well exercised.
Always put dates
In college, one topic can take up to two weeks to cover, and some topics have multiple subtopics. So, it’s better to organize notes by date as it not only indicates the chronological order but can also help to correspond classes that overlap. On laptops, this ensures that you don’t have the same name for files. For handwritten notes, they will eventually be filed away so it’s a great way to keep them in order.
This helps when skimming notes to find a specific topic and separates a subject into compartments both in the notes and in your head. Choose a few words that describe the section. A good lecturer will normally do this for you by introducing the topic first. Using color sets the heading apart and underlining helps as well.
Write in bullet points
There is a time for essays but note time is not that time. It gets rid of the extra words and saves time to write in bullet points. For professors that speak fast, the best way is to abbreviate things as well. Overall, bullet points are a more effective way of taking notes because they are summaries of the class you have attended. So, the bullet points should be written in a way that is summarised but evokes a memory of the in-depth explanation you heard in class.
Write all your questions down
When making notes we often have questions that pop into our heads and forget them the moment we walk out of the class. Some of these questions are out of personal interest but others may be incredibly important to what will be examined. So have a corner of the page, a post-it-note, or a text file open on your laptop to write down any questions that you may have. If your questions have not been answered by the end of the class, be sure to approach the lecturer, that’s what they’re there for! Ask them about your most important questions. It’s a great way to show your interest in the subject and to create a genuine relationship with your lecturer. Some of your questions can be answered using the intuition that you have gained throughout the class.