News & Events
How To Take Good Notes
- June 16, 2017
- Posted by: mjswinfree
- Category: Academic Tips
One of the most important practices of successful students is taking good notes. Most people have a hard time defining what good notes constitute – let alone what good notes are.
While most good notes contain the same content, there is no specific formula to follow when taking good notes. That is because notes are unique to the student – as they should be!
Let’s take a look at some of the things that constitute “good notes”:
Problem 1: Legible Handwriting
Good notes require legible, clear handwriting. This is one of the most simple, yet overlooked errors that most students face when taking notes. Many students face trouble with studying simply because they cannot read their own handwriting.
The good news is that legible handwriting is a trait that can easily be acquired with minimal training. The best way to defeat sloppy handwriting is to practice writing sentences that combine the use of as many letters as possible, and rewriting the sentence over and over. Here’s a list of a few examples you could use to practice your handwriting:
- The crazy fox jumped over the muddy creek, and balanced himself on a rock.
- Plenty of people have dreams about maple syrup over gluten-free pancakes.
- Jack and Jill ran along the beach, and sat beneath a coconut palm tree.
- Libby the dog is happy when she has an extra-long milk bones.
- The word “zebra” should be pronounced such that it rhymes with the name Debra.
Problem 2: Unorganized Content
While your notes do not necessarily need to look exactly the same as your classmates’, you should attempt to follow some sort of organization. Organizing the content of your notes can make finding things very easy when going back to study.
Organize your content based upon their classification. Write all of your vocabulary and definitions the same. Use colored pens for special annotations. Highlight all of the standards of the unit you are taking notes on. Whatever ways you begin to use when taking notes, be sure to be consistent. Make sure that you make a habit of taking your notes the same way. This will allow you to easily find specific content when you need to find it later.
Problem 3: Too Many Notes
Many students complain that their instructors “speak too fast” or that their lecture slides contain too much information. This usually leads to difficulty taking notes, because students focus on writing everything down instead of ingesting what the instructor is actually expressing.
Most lectures are not necessarily meant to be the student’s first exposure to a lesson’s content. This is the reason why so many instructors stress the importance of students reading ahead. When students read ahead, it makes taking notes a much easier task. This is because students ca focus on the content of the lecture more easily, and only jot down the points that the student didn’t understand from reading.
Problem 4: Not Enough Pictures
Good notes include a mixture of illustrations in between content. imagine reading a textbook that didn’t contain pictures – pretty difficult to understand, right? Just as textbook publishers are sure to contain as many pictures as necessary to make concepts more clear, so should your notes.
Make it a habit to doodle on your notes. Many students find themselves doodling while they’re bored, but rarely use their doodles in a productive way. If you’re already one of those students, find creative ways to incorporate the lesson’s content in your doodles. Make quick sketches of diagrams important statistics and timelines for noting dates. Often, diagrams provide a visual to complement complex notes, which makes remembering things much easier.
By applying this short list of fixes, you can be on your way to taking efficient notes. You’ll find that it’s easier to study from your notes, which will lead to an improvement in your grades in no time!