Study notes are not just an indelible part of the educational process. They are also one of the most powerful tools that can convert an average student into a brilliant one. And vice versa if you don’t pay enough attention to them. Here are some tips on how to make your study notes work.
Learn to Note
Today, the concept of learning how to note is very popular. The main reason for this is that teachers ALWAYS give you assignments according to educational programs, but RARELY explain how to do them with less effort. So, writing notes may seem very boring and dull if you can’t even use them afterward. Do your research on how to take notes that will help you. This is your first step, actually.
Master the Techniques
You can just write down everything you hear in class or read in the textbook. But there is no point in such writing. You will definitely forget everything soon after you’ve written it. Some techniques can help you to make your notes more valuable right while you’re writing. There is Cornell note taking, for example, renown all over the world. According to it, your page should be divided into three sections:
– a broad one on the right for what you write in class
– a narrow one on the left for the notes you take soon after class. It can also be used for the main terms, names, dates, etc.
– a narrow one at the bottom for summarizing.
Write as You Can
Our perfectionism demands us to make our notes look like those we see on Pinterest and Tumblr: perfect writing, quality colorful pens, and liners, fancy paper, etc. Such masterpieces of contemporary note-taking are usually the product of hard work and experience. We should admit that there are no perfect things in the world. That is true about writing notes as well. If you cannot create something you really like, write with a pencil and don’t think of how it looks. You’ll work on the appearances later.
Keep Your Things in Order
What can make you less motivated than being unable to find a pen before taking notes or writing on really bad paper? This will make you less productive and your notes won’t be helpful in the future. And no, this point doesn’t contradict the previous one. You should be prepared to write (not to make your notes look nice, although if you are quick, you can make that, too). The same approach works when it comes to preparing for your term paper writing or dealing with any other lengthy and complicated academic task. Remember to take care of the right tools first.
Remember, any work done in a hurry has more chances to turn into failure than the one done slowly and thoroughly. First, this is true for the notes you take at home. But you have time at home! How about what you write in class? As it was already mentioned, you HAVE to work on them afterward. Here, you can use everything we’ve talked before: revising techniques, fancy stationery, etc. When no one distracts you from revising, the chance of memorizing the material increases.
Your notes are not just what’s in your notebooks. You can also make index cards. As opposed to notebooks, such cards help you not only to revise the material but to learn it. Your memory gets much more productive when you have to think of what might be on the other side of the card. Don’t make index cards in class as rewriting the material also helps. Actually, you don’t even have to write them. There are plenty of applications to create index cards from the text and photos. Don’t forget to turn to your cards every day at the stage of active learning and AT LEAST once a week at the stage of revising.
Mind What You’re Writing
Don’t just copy what you hear or read. Often, students don’t even understand some words they write down. If you understand the word but it’s too academic for you, you may try to replace it with the synonym. Most of the academic writings require academic language. They are extremely important when it comes to writing scientific researches and articles. But your notes are FOR YOU, so make them clear. On the other hand, you shouldn’t avoid all words that may provide difficulties, because some of them are essential. Slang words should be avoided, of course. Keep in mind that you are not chatting with your friends.
Taking notes is very important for each student. It is obligatory for some subjects, but more than that, it is a very useful skill. Even after you graduate, you will take notes. And their quality is the main factor of how productively you can process the information.