How to Take Good Notes

We’ve all seen them - the students who walk out of class with their fingers gnarled up from constant writing, knuckles dragging the ground.  Taking notes is important, but note-taking can take it out of you if you don’t know how to take notes properly.

Studies show that we learn through repetition. If you find yourself sitting in class and not taking notes, you run the risk of zoning out and missing an important point. Taking good notes not only allows you to be an active participant in class, they provide a way to revisit the important points of a lecture and go over them again.

Notes are not the end all of studying. They are meant as a means to compliment the textbook and any other materials distributed by the instructor. Good notes catch extra bits of information and expand on what the textbook may cover. In lab work, good notes provide the results of experimentation and hands-on activities and conclusions that you reached.

Yes, notes are important. But how do I get the right information in my notes?

First, learn to abbreviate, even if it is your own personal system. If you try to write out every single word, odds are you may miss some of the more important ones. Plus, as you write out that really long term, the squiggle that it may become might need a translator.

Second, learn the hints to what’s important. We all know names and dates are important, but what else should you know? If the instructor continuously repeats a word or phrase, write it down. If the instructor spends extra time on a topic or concept, write it down. If the instructor takes the time to write the word on the board, write it down. The instructor is going to emphasize what you need to know – you just need to write it down.

Once you’ve got your notes and you’re ready to buckle down and study, get organized. Re-write your notes if they are fuzzy. Separate key concepts using an outline, color-coding or any other system that helps you recall the information.

Success is easy to obtain if you are prepared from the beginning. Take notes and know how to use them as tools for that success.