The ability to take good notes is highly-desirable among all ages. Ideally, students should focus on listening, in addition to writing down good notes. Note-taking skills allow students to learn during and after class; the best class notes are legible, concise and contain any information that is helpful. These skills are developed over time and practiced in class as grades progress. Hence, it is always a good idea to start developing these skills as early as possible. Here are some strategies and helpful tips for better note-taking skills:
Organize Your Notes
Separate subjects by keeping different notebooks or using binder dividers for different subjects. This will allow for easy access to each subject later on. You can also use page markers to easily flip between units or chapters within subjects. Before each class, make a note of the date at the top of the page. Keeping notes in a chronological order will make it easier for you to access specific information later on.
Apply a Method
Find a note-taking method that is easy for you to understand and benefits you most. For example, the Cornell method organizes thoughts by listing subject topics on the left and information details on the right. Ensure that your notes are legible to prevent confusion in the future when you refer back to them.
Take Smart Notes
Listen to the teacher when he or she is speaking, and make note of the most important points. Summarize what the teacher is saying in your own words, and don’t forget to keep listening! You can use symbols, diagrams and shortened words to save time. It only matters that you know what your notes mean when you reviewing it later.
As you are taking notes, write down questions you may want to ask after class. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification; add this information to your notes before you forget!
Highlighting will distinguish key words and phrases from the rest of the page. You can experiment with using different colour pens for important words, definitions and side notes. Colour-coordinating your notes may help define separate steps of a problem.
Make a Summary Page
At the end of a chapter or unit, take some time to review the content and summarize key points on a page. At the end of the term or year, you can combine all your short summaries to produce a booklet of condensed notes. You can review these summaries before a test or exam for a quick reference. As a general rule, try to keep your condensed notes for each chapter or unit down to one page. Use key words or phrases that will help trigger your memory.
Some of these strategies can be applied gradually as a student’s skills progress over time. Good organizational skills and note-taking habits will help students stay on track and succeed in their classes. These lifelong skills can be applied from middle school through university, and onto future professions.
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