How Top Students Take Notes

Making notes may be boring and seem like a waste of time. It may be exactly that if you’re not making good notes! Make sure to stay on top of your notes and finish them before you start your exam preparation routine. Often it takes time to perfect your notes, but it will save you so much time later on when exams and tests start popping up! Here are some tips on how to make notes:

Make your notes based on the syllabus

When you follow the syllabus, you won’t lose track of the topic and make sure that you aren’t wasting your time on irrelevant information. Acknowledge every syllabus point and tick them off as you cover them. Some students like printing out all the syllabus points, cutting them out separately and sticking one at the top of every note page- one note page for one syllabus point! There are many different ways of following your syllabus- find one that works for you.

More rainbow= more marks

I have found this is a very useful tip for straight males, who never seem to notice that they own highlighters. When you read colourful notes, your brain will link the information with the colour, making you remember it more easily. However, make sure that you’re highlighting the correct way– when you highlight the entire page, it won’t help either!

Forget the book

I like making notes on loose leaf pieces of paper and keeping them in a file. Why?

  1. Organised – If you learn something new on the topic or realise that you forgot to add something into your notes, you can just add in some information on a new loose leaf paper and clip it in!

  2. Scrap bad notes easily – if you look back and don’t like one page of notes, no need to rip a page out of a book! Just replace the bad page with a new one.

  3. Missing a class is easier – when you use a book you may miss a class and come back the next day not knowing how many pages to leave in your book for the missed work. You won’t have this problem with loose leaf papers.

As for making notes on your computer, whatever floats your boat, but I’ve always found that physical notes are remembered more easily!

NO paragraphs in your notes!

You are not the author of a text book (no offence if you are) so don’t write notes like you are. Write in dot points and mind maps (here are some great tips on how to mindmap) , also  use things like diagrams and boxes. The whole point of you making notes is being able to quickly relearn all important information – so only include important information, and write it in a way that is easy to read and understand. If you’re good at art (or not- who am I to judge?) draw pictures! This can also help you remember your notes more clearly.

When and where

When and where you make your notes depends a lot on you. If you’re anything like me, then there is no way that you’ll be able to listen to the teacher, look at the PowerPoint AND make notes at the same time. I am also not an auditory or social learner, so I never really learnt much in class. I did most of my learning from the textbook after the class, which meant that I made most of my notes outside of class too.

Some people are great auditory learners, and reading the textbook doesn’t help them much. For these types of learners, listening to the teacher can be very helpful! If you’re like this, try make your notes in class. You might need to make rough notes at first (so that you don’t fall behind on what the teacher is saying) and refine them later.

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