Note taking has become a unique process but learning the basics is a great way to stay on top of things and know your options for a better learning experience. There are many different types of note taking which can work differently for everyone. Although writing notes by hand is proved to be a better method for studying, taking notes using a computer has become more and more popular. If you are one of these people, OneNote is an excellent application that helps to organize your notes. Quip is another application that not only helps you take notes, but helps you organize them and your time by means of to-do lists. This article will highlight some of the best ways to take notes and prepare for class so you are not falling short or becoming overcrowded with notes when it comes time to study for a test.
First of all, the lesson plans for most teachers are given or posted at the beginning of the semester. This means that you should never be surprised by what the teacher is talking about in class that day. Being mindful of this plan is the best way to stay ahead of the game. Therefore, if you know you have a lecture on a certain subject, you should have already read the chapter in the text for this lecture. By being aware of the lesson plan you can keep one step ahead.
Reading a textbook cover to cover can be dry and boring, but breaking up the text into sections can help. Most textbooks are sorted by chapters and main sections within the chapters. When taking notes from the textbook, read full paragraphs or short sections to fully understand the point the writer is trying to make before writing anything down. By doing this you can highlight the main points of the text, section by section. Once you have read the section, write down what you believe the main idea is and the main points to support the idea as well as new definitions. Always remember to use point form and abbreviations, as well as using your own words. Be selective and condense what you choose to add to your notes, details are not as important as the main idea. Also, try and understand the material so you’re prepared for the up coming lecture.
Once you have prepared your notes for class, its time for the lecture. This is the chance to actively learn and identify the main points that your teacher is teaching. Before you can give your full attention to the lecture, you must get rid of internal and external distractions. This involves getting a full night’s sleep, eating healthy, not over stressing, turning off your electronics, and avoid socializing during class time. By doing this you are able to give your full attention, listen to the teacher, understand the material, participate by asking and answering questions, and pick up on important cues from the teacher.
Now that you are fully prepared, the first thing that should be at the top of your notes is the date. Dating your work is another key element to organization. There are many different methods to note taking. The most used method is the Outlining Method. The Outlining Method involves placing the information related to the topics and subtopics to the right by indenting. However, although the Outlining Method is the most common, the Cornell Method is proved to be much more effective. With this method, the page is sectioned off for different types of information. On the right is the main area where general notes would be taken, a column on the left highlights the key point and concepts taken from the main area, and the bottom section of the page is where you would summarize the page of information. With this method the most important terms and concepts are clearly distinguishable. Other methods include, The Two-Column Method, Mapping Method, Charting Method, and the Sentence Method. Which ever you choose to use, listen, look, think, understand, paraphrase, then write.
After class you should have a clear page of notes to work with. This is where you would review your notes, highlight or underline key points, compare them with your previous textbook notes, and organize them into your binder. This is specifically important to do as soon as possible after the lecture. What’s on the test should never be a mystery. By following these note taking strategies, you should have a clear understanding of the material, and personalized decisive notes.