How To Take Better Notes: In-Depth Guide With Great 4 Systems

how to understand what you read

If you want to understand how to take better notes, you will love this article.

Effective record keeping is important at all levels of school (in college too). Notes act as a robust tool to help us record and retrieve the information we have learned in class.

Because of the wide scope of study and limited contact time with our teachers, it’s impossible to retain everything they say in class in our memory.

In fact, what we get from the class is simply a small part. The role of the teacher or lecturer is to introduce the central concept and reasoning behind a particular topic.

Now we must study it, fully understand the concept and remember important facts about the subject.

Class notes are a really important tool in preparing for exams. You realize that almost all of the questions on the exam will be based on what the teacher taught in class.

For effective note-taking, we need to improve our listening skills. Yes, listening is a skill that many students lack.

Actually students develop listening skills later in college when it can help them more in highschool.

Listening isn’t just sitting in class and taking notes. So much more.

In fact I believe that students should be taught how to listen as one of the first subjects in order to put them in good stead to receive more from their teachers in other subjects.

Let me highlight some important listening tips.

In order to listen and understand what the lecturer wants us to understand, we must at least be familiar with the subject.

Smart students read before the teacher enters to teach the subject. This helps our hearing because we are familiar with the subject and a few of the words involved.

We’ve all been in class where a teacher said some words we could not even write correctly.

We may be behind in noting as we try to get the spelling right. By first reading the topic, this is eliminated.

The second point is to understand when the teacher is giving important information.

Usually, this will be the point where they pose, emphasize, repeat what they said, ask some questions, use variations in tone or provide examples. This is when you need to listen attentively and concentrate fully to get the point across.

Maintain eye contact with the teacher when you’re not writing down your notes. This will help you focus and pay attention when important points are being made.

Don’t make premature judgments on your teacher. This is the fault of most students.

They find a teacher boring depending on how they deliver. This is wrong because your mind won’t concentrate fully.

Every time you hear this teacher talk, you will only consider how boring he’s and in the process important points escape your attention. Try to see all teachers as equally capable and focus on content not delivery.

Have a good speed at writing notes as most teachers will be fast as a result of the limited time in their schedule.

This will be achieved by minimizing distractions during class and avoiding thinking about anything outside of class.

Let’s look at some effective note-taking techniques.

I will outline the various techniques because research has shown that students will have different techniques that they find effective for their case.

It’s a good idea for students to experiment early enough in their highschool to determine what works for them depending on their abilities, situation, and preferences.

All these techniques have been advanced by leading experts in the field of education.

How to Make Better Notes:

Cornell Note Taking Techniques.

This note-taking technique was proposed by Walter Pauk, a professor at Cornell University (1).

It’s probably the most recognized techniques and lots of former students have attested to its usefulness.

The aim of this technique is to help students, at all levels of education, to systematically record, analyze, synthesize and reflect on the subjects presented in class.

The Cornell system is an effective way to organize your notes in class in such a way that you can return to them, identify key points and remember information easily.

It also helps you identify key areas of action so you can act on them.

To get started with this system, divide your normal book page into thirds. The main section will be on the right side of your page which you’ll use to write notes in class.

All important information, definitions, statements should be placed here.

On the left side, there will be a small section (about 2 inches) that you’re going to use to write notes, questions, key points, tips to help you relate the information on this page to any ideas you may have.

This should be done less than 24 hours after taking it down. This means that you must read your notes within this timeframe.

Even if you do, you increase your chances of retaining the information you learn. The other sections will be at the bottom of the page.

This is to summarize your notes on that page in a few sentences highlighting the key points.

The success of the Cornell method has been attributed to the proven fact that students must read their notes within a brief period of time after taking them, while the content is still fresh in their minds and pick up all the key points, identify areas of action, perform each follow-up and summarize the notes on each page.

This reinforces the information in their brain.

When revising later for an exam, students only need to read the cues written on the left side and the summary section at the bottom of the page.

Outline Method

This is the oldest recording technique.

This works well for some students depending on the situation and the nature of the subject being covered. The main idea behind this technique is to arrange ideas and points in order of importance, flow and how they relate to each other.

Ideas are labeled in the list either by using numbers or roman letters. For each labeled point we can have several subpoints.

If you use roman numerals, you use Arabic numerals to include these bullet points.

If you capitalize, you now use lowercase to include subpoints; You can still swap numbers and letters to mark bullets and subpoints.

The outlining technique works particularly well when dealing with subjects that have quite a lot of content and interrelated facts unlike the Cornell method which is more successful on technical subjects.

When using this system all the time leave some extra space after each bullet point so that if you come across more points while reading the textbook, you can all the time add them to your notes.

Keep in mind that the teacher will most certainly only offer you the key points and leave the rest for your discovery or as an assignment.

Great outline for organized notes (2) with all the information a couple of given point found together.

Remember we said earlier that our brains love order and when things are in order, we increase our chances of remembering.

Deciphering is also very visual and it helps in remembering. When placing notes in the outline technique, we only add a few words to each point.

Elaborating will also help us exhaust all the points in a given topic before moving on. If these techniques work for you, master them and use them to study effectively.

However, if your subject is highly technical or abstract in nature, do not insist on this technique; explore other techniques for more effective and efficient record keeping.

Charting Method

This is among the effective note-taking techniques which aids in efficient learning. Much like the outline method, this is a time-tested technique that has worked.

This method involves writing your notes by grouping them in labeled columns. The advantage of this method is that it avoids repetition and helps students take notes very quickly.

It supports students in high-speed classes where note-taking speed is of the essence. The student does not need to record quite a lot of details about something because she or he has already placed it in the right category.

As opposed to the other two methods mentioned earlier, this requires students to have prior knowledge of the subject and this is where its success lies.

Students will undergo the subject before class time and get a general feel for what the subject is about.

He then took out his notebook and divided it into columns per page. Each column will be labeled appropriately.

If for example it’s a historical topic, the column might be important time periods, events and folks and so on.

When the teacher will deliver the lesson, students will then group the information into the right category.

As we have seen with the outline method, grouped information is simple to remember. So for example if we are talking about important political events of the 20th century then they will all be combined in one column and hence easy to remember.

This is in contrast to the case where we take a particular year, discussing events, people involved, results realized and so on.

When we group information this way, it is easier to relate between columns.

For chronological information, this is the best recording method. You can go with the flow and memorize facts easily.

The proven fact that you have gone through what the teacher will be telling you in class puts you in a good position to fully understand and understand.

The only limiting issue with this method is when you find information that does not slot in the labeled column, but since you noted that down before, you will decide to supplement it with another method such as an overview.

Sentence Method

This is the most basic note-taking method. That is what all students are first exposed to before they can learn more advanced techniques.

However, it is still very useful particularly in a number of situations which we’ll look at shortly.

The sentence method involves writing down everything you hear in class or so.

However, you are unlikely to keep up with the teacher’s pace as you write everything down, so you will must use a shorthand technique where you abbreviate words, use acronyms or even symbols.

Every time your teacher moves on to another point, you start a new sentence and write down what they said. Leave a small space between dots for extra information you may need to write down.

This method doesn’t require any prior preparation. Just walking to class and taking notes would be a breeze. However, it becomes a less effective method when you want to have a good understanding of the topic in class.

In the sentence method, most students will only listen to the teacher, take notes and leave the class. Much effort and time will be required later to fully understand the records.

However, this method is quite effective when you’re dealing with a subject where everything the teacher says is fact.

Here nothing is left behind; You will record everything as a reference source.

Some subjects will have less information available from sources aside from the teacher and it’s therefore important to record everything for future reference.

You will then need to take the time to undergo this note and maybe jot down all the key points and cues to remember. This should be done as soon as possible after taking notes.

Effective record keeping helps us study better and more efficiently. We spend less time revising when we have taken good notes.

There are other note-taking techniques but I assumed to highlight a few of these as they’ve been found to be the best.

Now it is up to you to choose the best method for you depending on your preference and the nature of your subject.

You can combine the two methods or choose different methods for various topics.

The goal here is to have easy-to-read notes that will refresh your mind and help you remember what you learned in previous classes.

Thanks for reading this article on how to take better notes and I actually hope you take action on my suggestions.

I wish you good luck and that I hope that its content has been a good help to you.