Reference and Education

How to take notes smartly and efficiently

You currently take notes meticulously, but you’re looking for ways to improve your note-taking skills and start taking more valuable notes. We’ll show you how to employ a variety of note-taking methods and strategies to make your notes as useful and clutter-free as possible. We’ve also included some pointers on how to review your notes effectively so that you can get the most out of them. To get started, follow the instructions below.

Having a Plan

Assemble your note-taking supplies.

  • It may seem obvious, but having all of your note-taking materials arranged and ready to go before the start of any class, meeting, or lecture is critical.
  • Make sure you have a notebook with lots of blank pages and extra writing instruments if you’re writing using paper and pens. Make sure your laptop is completely charged or that you can sit near a power outlet if you’re using one.
  • If you wear glasses, bring them with you in case the teacher or lecturer writes something significant on the blackboard or whiteboard. If you’re bringing your glasses, don’t forget to bring a little microfiber towel to clean them if necessary. Also, make sure you’re sitting in a spot in the room where you can see and hear the speaker.

Make sure you’re ready.

  • Make sure to reread your notes from the last class, lecture, or meeting before attending. This will bring you up to date and allow you to resume where you left off.
  • Make sure you read and annotated the assignment if you were given any background reading to prepare for the class. This will assist you in comprehending any themes, concepts, or ideas presented in class by the teacher or lecturer. Outlining the section, article, or chapter in advance is a smart idea. On one side of the page, write your outline, and on the other, write your class notes. You can have look: neet previous year question papers

Be a good listener.

  • Many people make the mistake of scribbling down every word without actually understanding what is being said when taking notes. Instead, attempt to comprehend the material in class. Focus on what’s being said, and if you don’t understand, ask questions.
  • When you’ve decided on the optimum time to ask a question, raise your hand to draw the instructor’s attention. They’ll appreciate the fact that you’re paying attention and trying to understand what they’re saying.
  • Make every effort to understand the material in class so that you don’t have to work as hard during the review.

Take handwritten notes.

  • Although taking notes on a laptop is handy, research suggests that taking notes by hand helps note-takers retain knowledge better. This could be because people who type on a laptop prefer to transcribe every word without knowing what they mean, whereas people who write by hand are obliged to pick out crucial information to stay up.
  • If you’re using a laptop to take notes, don’t try to jot down every word. Check to see if you’re getting the message of what’s being said.

Do not be hesitant to inquire.

  • When you come across something you don’t understand, don’t just scribble it down and convince yourself you’ll figure it out later; instead, seek clarification from the teacher or lecturer.
  • Consider this: if anything is perplexing now, it will be twice more perplexing during your note-review afterward.
  • Don’t be hesitant to ask the teacher or presenter to repeat themselves, especially if you believe they’ve stated something significant.

Making the Most Useful Notes

Concentrate on the keywords and themes.

  • Focusing entirely on taking down keywords and concepts is the most critical improvement you can make to improve your note-taking skills.
  • Determine the most pertinent facts. Only the most crucial elements should be cut from the list of specific words or key phrases that are most pertinent to the topic at hand — things like dates, people, theories, and definitions. Remove any filler words and minor information; if you needed to know about those things, you could read a textbook.
  • Consider what you wish to keep. Why are you enrolling in this course? What is your motivation for attending the seminar? Why was it necessary for your employer to send you to attend the conference? While it may be tempting to try to take down everything you hear or see word for word, keep in mind that you’re taking notes to learn something, not to write a novella.
  • Make any “new” information a top priority. Don’t waste time writing down information that you already know; it’s ineffective and time-consuming. Concentrate on writing down any new information that you haven’t learned previously; this will help you get the most out of your note-taking.

Use the approach of “question, answer, evidence.”

  • This way of taking notes is extremely successful because it causes you to engage with the information as you write and allows you to express the topic in your terms. This method of paraphrasing information has been shown to significantly improve pupils’ understanding and retention of material.
  • Instead of copying down information line by line, pay attention to what the speaker is saying and try to comprehend the topic. After that, format your notes as a series of questions posed by the material, then fill in the blanks with your responses.
  • For example, if asked, “What is the fundamental topic of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?” the answer could be, “Romeo and Juliet are about the consequences of carrying grudges.”
  • Then, beneath this answer, you can back up your claim with specific examples from the book. This method helps you to write down all of the important details in a clear, easy-to-understand fashion.

Make use of shorthand.

  • The average student writes at 1/3 of a second, while the average speaker speaks at 2/3 of a second. As a result, improving your shorthand writing system can help you write more quickly and prevent getting behind.
  • Of course, you’ll need to be able to decode your shorthand later on, so if you’re having trouble, consider writing a key on the inside cover of your book. After class, you could go back and fill in the full-length version of the words.
  • If the speaker continues to speak too quickly for you despite your shorthand, bring a recording device to your next lesson so you may listen again and fill in any gaps in your notes.

Make your notes pleasant to the eye.

  • If your notes are sloppy, disorganized, and difficult to understand, you will be hesitant to go back and examine them, so they must look pleasant! Here are some pointers on how to make notes that are more visually appealing:
  • Always begin on a new page. Starting each new class or topic on a new, blank page will make your notes much easier to read. Put the date in the top right-hand corner of each page, and only write on one side of each page if you’re using ink pens.
  • Make certain that your writing is readable. It’ll be a waste of time to take notes if you can’t read them later! If at all possible, avoid using cursive handwriting and keep your writing tiny, and legible, regardless of how quickly you write.
  • Make use of large margins. With a pen and ruler, outline each page, leaving a large margin on the left. This will keep the page from becoming too packed and will give you room to add any more information after you’ve gone over your notes.
  • Make use of diagrams and symbols. If you’re a visual learner, things like arrows, dots and boxes, diagrams, charts, and other visual aids might help you associate and remember crucial concepts.

Sort your notes by color.

  • Many people feel that adding a dash of color to their notes improves the readability and retention of the content.
  • This is because color activates your brain’s creative side, making your notes more intriguing and hence simpler to remember. Color-coding aids in the association of color with memory, allowing you to recall the contents of your notes with no effort.
  • Use different colored pens for different sections of your notes, such as red for questions, blue for definitions, and green for conclusions.
  • Use a highlighter pen to draw attention to keywords, dates, and meanings. Don’t go crazy, though; you don’t want to confuse your notes with the actual research.

Make a list of the things you want to remember from your textbook.

  • You might want to enhance your notes with information from a textbook after a class or lecture. Another skill to master is taking notes from a textbook.
  • Obtain a sneak peek at the content: If you want to get a sense of what a text is about before you start reading it, preview it first. Any introductions and conclusions, headers and subheaders, as well as the first and last lines of each paragraph, should all be read. Examine any charts, pictures, or diagrams as well.
  • Actively read the text: Return to the beginning of the text and read it from beginning to end. Go back and highlight any keywords, facts, concepts, or noteworthy quotes after you’ve finished a paragraph. Look for visual signals in the textbook itself, such as bold or italicized phrases, color, or bullet points, which are frequently used to highlight important concepts.
  • Take notes: After you’ve read the book thoroughly, go back and jot down any information you highlighted. Instead of copying entire sentences from the text (which wastes time), rephrase using your own words whenever possible.

Going Over Your Notes

Later in the day, go over your notes again.

  • Reviewing your notes after class or later that day will help you remember the content much better. You don’t need to spend a lot of time studying them; just spend 15 to 20 minutes each night looking over them again.
  • Fill in the blanks if necessary. Make use of your review time to fill in any gaps in your knowledge from the class or lecture.
  • Make a summary of your findings. Another helpful technique for remembering your notes is to write a summary of the material at the bottom of the page.

Put yourself to the test.

  • Cover your notes and try to describe the topic to yourself — out loud or in your brain — to see how well you comprehend the material.
  • See how many of the crucial elements you can recall, then go over the notes again to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
  • Tell a friend about the material. Teaching or discussing the information with a buddy is a fantastic technique to see if you’ve grasped the concept and if your notes cover the subject well.

Make a mental note of your notes.

When it comes to exam time and you have to memorize all of the content, having good notes will come in handy. You’ll find the memory process much easier if you’ve been reading your notes for 20 to 30 minutes each night. You can attempt the following popular memorization techniques:

  • Line-by-line method: If you need to memorize a section of material, try reading the first line a few times and then repeating it out loud without looking at the page. Read the second line a few times, then try to say out loud the first and second lines without glancing at the page. Continue in this manner until you can repeat the entire block of text without having to glance at the page.
  • The narrative method entails converting the material you need to learn into a simple, easy tale. For example, you may use the story “(H)arriet and (He)nry went to the (Li)brary” to memorize the first three elements of the periodic table (hydrogen, helium, and lithium). The story doesn’t need to make sense; in fact, the more absurd it is, the better.
  • Mnemonic devices: Using mnemonic devices to remember lists of words in a specific order is a smart idea. Make a mnemonic by taking the initial letter of each word you want to remember and creating a brief sentence with each word beginning with those letters. For example, the mnemonic “Every Good Boy Does Fine” may be used to memorize the lines on a musical staff EGBDF.

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