Being a student for almost seven years and a teacher lately has brought new perspective of note taking. It used to be that I took notes because my parents or my teacher asked me so. The initiative of taking notes came from someone else. As I grew older, I began to realize the importance of taking notes in my classes, meetings, workplaces, and even in a church service. From something that was “ordered” by someone else, taking good notes is now becoming a necessity. I start to realize that without taking a good note, I won’t be able to succeed in my life.
I know that taking notes doesn’t have to be on a piece of paper. It could also be a “mental” note. This method is fine and needed from time to time. It’s good for quick retrieval, but you will forget the details if you are only relying on your mental note abilities. Therefore, I will focus more on taking notes in a piece of paper, especially in a class lecture settings. By no means does a student need to be in a classroom setting for these tips to be useful. They’re helpful if you’re attending an online school as well.
Before we start, I want to lay down one simple objective of taking good notes. To me, a note contains every main details that your instructor lectures. It should be thorough enough that when you recite your note, it is as if you are repeating what you instructor was saying. Pretty simple, isn’t it? ok, here we go.
1. Choose the right paper
Use ruled paper instead of the plain one. It will keep your handwriting straight and easier to read.
2. Choose the right pen
There are many different types of pen you can choose. I like to use ballpoint pen, especially the one with round end, not the pointy one. The round-end pen writes better. It glides as you write. This feature is useful to speed up your writings.
3. Use abbreviation
If you like to tweet or text, you know what I’m talking about. Abbreviation makes your writing faster. Granted that everyone has their own style of abbreviating, and it’s completely fine. Make your note personal to you. Unless you are writing notes for someone else, you can make up your own abbreviations. Just make sure you know what they are and be consistent with them.
4. Use pictures
People says pictures speak thousand words. This is true. Sometimes you can draw something to explain one paragraph in handwriting. So why are you using words if a picture is sufficient?
5. Write neatly
This is a really important point. When you write something, you want to be able to read it again next time. That’s the whole point of taking notes. So if you write poorly, you will be having a hard time to read it in the future. Here’s some tips to write neatly.
6. Stay awake
Keep yourself awake; otherwise, your handwriting will be a mess. Most students know what I’m talking about. Have you ever tried to write a note when you were sleepy? Yeah…not a good idea. Your handwritings will be like chicken-scratch with no shape and form whatsoever. Here is some tips on how to stay awake in the class.
7. Understand your teachers
What do I mean by that? It’s simple. You should know your teacher well enough to know which part of his/her lecture is important (HINT: more likely to be on the test) and which one that is not really important. I’m not saying to take partial notes. I’m just saying to take better notes at the important parts of the lecture.
If your teacher speaks really fast, use more abbreviations. If your teacher like to jump around on his topics, organize your notes to accommodate that. And so on….
8. Copying someone else’s note is NOT recommended
Unless you are sick (I mean a genuine sick), there’s little option other than to copy someone else’s notes. Other than that, try to take notes by yourself. Why? It’s because when you write your own notes, your brain is taking notes also at the same time. It’s like taking notes twice. Your brain will retain information better after you heard the information, wrote it on your notes, and saw the information as you write it.
9. Don’t just write, understand what you wrote
Writing is good, but understanding is better. Try to connect the things that you wrote in your brain. Make them relevant to you. This is also a good time to ask your teacher if something is unclear to you. You want to understand what you wrote when you look at your notes in the future.
10. Organize your notes
Separate your notes into sections. They could be by subjects, dates, instructors, time, etc. Find what works best for you. Don’t be hard on yourself. Make it easier for you to find your notes.
Hopefully my tips would help you become a better note taker. Which one works the best for you? Do you have your own tips you would share with us. Please leave comments below.