The days of fill in the blank notes have come to an end (for the most part). Note taking was something I didn’t think about much until Freshman Orientation when we had a note taking seminar. We were each handed a piece of paper and a pencil and a history professor got on stage and started talking.
The frantic scribbles of 200+ pencils on paper as well as the occasional sigh of despair filled the room. After a 15 minute mini-lecture the professor stopped and said, “This is how it’s going to be for the next four years. Taking notes is important, so you need to learn what works for you.”
There are 101 different note taking strategies that one could use, and it’s all about what works for you. For example, I never liked Cornell styled notes and I probably never will, but if that’s what rows your boat, then keep it up. Also, I am a very visual person and I like things to be in a specific order with a layout I can follow and that is why I use lots of colors when I write my notes. So here are some tips and tricks that might help you take awesome notes.
Print the Slides
Not all professors post their lecture notes, but if they do make sure to take advantage of that! Most of the time, professors will lecture from their slides while emphasizing certain points and dropping hints as to what will be on exams. As a science major there are a lot of graphs and structures that I need to know, but wouldn’t have time to draw in my notes during lecture. Having the printed slides helps me when I rewrite my notes because I have something to look off of as I summarize.
Dedicate One Spiral per Class
As previously stated, not all classes will come with lecture slides, so when you have to write your own it is a lot easier to have all of your government notes in one place and all of your chemistry notes in another. Sharing a spiral for multiple classes tends to get messy and confusing as you search for that one specific page with very specific information about next weeks test. It also makes studying easier because the information you are looking at is all the same, and you don’t have to jump from algebra to sociology and back again. I also like having a spiral for each class because it is easy to pull it out whenever you need something to write on as you do online homework or in-class assignments. That way as the semester progresses, you can go back and relearn things that you have forgotten while seeing the steps to solve the problem.
White pages and black ink can be a bore as well as cause everything to look the same. When I take notes I use colors to break up the page and make it more engaging so I that I might actually read them. For example, use a blue pen for section headers and a pink pen for vocabulary words, that way you can give the information on the page more life. Also, it helps my understanding knowing what the broad topics are so that I can give my notes context.
Draw it Out
I am a visual learner, but I also need to write things out to remember them. Drawing the tables and examples is another way to get the information to stick to my brain. So when I write and draw something, I am more likely to remember it and it is a good way to get a lot of information condensed into one page.
Here are a couple of examples from the notes that I have taken for my biology class!
Hope this helps!