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How to Effectively Take Study Notes

Table of Contents

Note-taking mainly occurs while we listen; the main goal is to capture the main ideas and content for future references.  You will agree that it is hard to remember everything taught in class, even for the best listeners. Aside from becoming a good listener, note-taking abilities contribute tremendously to academic success.  One primary contribution is supporting students to remain focused in class and pay closer attention to the discussion. It also works as a record of what was discussed, which can come in handy when studying for exams.

According to research, 60% of students forget what was discussed in class one hour after leaving, while 50% forget within 30 minutes; by taking notes and reviewing them one hour after the lecture, students can remember much more of what they have just learned. Furthermore, based on research, students retain about 70% to 80% of the content learned in class when they review their notes after class. Nevertheless, note-taking can be very challenging and ineffective if you lack the know-how.

Steps to follow to become an excellent note-taker in no time!

Step 1: Prepare

The more you understand a subject before class, the easier it will be to process the delivered information. Better processing of information makes it easy to understand the subject and to take notes. For example, when you read your textbook before a lecture, you create a mental framework of the teacher’s information later. It also helps to predict and prepare for the class. You should also review the previous class notes to refresh your memory and close any subject gaps.

Step 2: Know the Teacher

The second step to becoming an excellent note-taker is to understand your teacher’s style of lecturing. Different teachers use different methods of teaching. For example, some will talk; others will use PowerPoint slides or distribute handouts, while others will write on the board. In addition, some teachers will only highlight essential points on the board; others will emphasize main ideas with repetition, while others will change their voices to indicate crucial issues. Understanding your teacher’s teaching mode will make it easy for you to highlight all the essential points of the lecture.

Step 3: Use Symbols and Abbreviations.

Note-taking requires you to be fast and alert all the time. As such, always write less else; you will not be able to keep up by writing everything that your instructor says will cause you to miss out a lot. Instead, you can leave out unimportant words to fill them later when reviewing your notes. You can also create an abbreviation sheet to write down abbreviations of common phrases you identify in the lecture. You can also include critical terms under this category.

Step 4: Identify the Pattern

The information taught in a class will always have a pattern. For example, the pattern may include; introduction, description or definitions, cause and effects, solutions, and recommendations. Understanding the pattern before the class begins can make it easy to take better notes and remain focused.

Step 5: Utilize a Good Note-taking Method

  • Cornell Note-taking method provides you with a systematic manner of organizing and condensing notes without too much repetition. In this method, you use columns to summaries the lecture using keywords, abbreviations and short sentences.
  • In the Outlining method, most general information (Headings, topics) is aligned on the left, while specific groups of facts are indented to the right. Relationships of facts and information are shown through indenting. Numbers, Romans numerals and letters are not necessary but can be used in organization. The method is the easiest to use when you know the outline of the lecture.
  • The Mapping method uses concentration or comprehension skills.   In this method, you write the main heading at the center of the paper and link related concepts, ideas and subtopics through branching, colors and images. This method is quite effective since it emphasizes critical thinking and creates a visual picture in mind.

What’s more?

  1. Record the date of the lecture to keep your notes in good order
  2. Consider using a three-ring binder since it makes it easy to review notes, add handouts and make additions or do corrections.
  3. Review and rewrite notes after the lecture to make it easier to learn
  4. Write in your own words rather than copy everything
  5. Add meaning with diagrams and pictures
  6. Do not lose focus or sleep amid lessons
  7. Ask the teacher to slow down, or you can record the lecture.

Take Away: A question often asked by parents when does the need for note-taking skills begin? Your child’s Fifth Grade is the first year in school that students should learn how to take proper notes in preparation for middle school and beyond.

Do you have any questions regarding this topic? At Kids on the Yard, we are always willing to help. Contact us for any questions, comments, or clarity.

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