The Best Ways to Take Notes

One of the most typical reasons for many students to fail with passing some tests is the absence of appropriate lecture notes. In case you proofread your class notes several times before the exam just to earn “F” or “D”, you should think about changing your summarizing strategy. Frankly speaking, a lot of people live their entire lives without mastering the ability to take notes in full, especially if the topic is so complicated like "Essential Components for Effective Business Operations Management".

So, there is no wonder that, according to the Department of Education, more than 25% of students fail their attempts to earn at least “C” because of having hard times with reading and interpreting own notes.

Not long ago, a Business Insider has shared few secrets of the successful writing. Top contributors and official magazine’s writers came up with a single list of rules for the students who experience some difficulties with creating clear lecture outline. Right, your notes should look like an outline rather than a messy shit full of the comments from your best friend, freaky pictures, blot, and signs of coffee. Just kidding. Anyway, the truth is that many students don’t care about the up-coming exam unless the day of the execution actually comes. That’s why they take notes in a rough manner.

Another significant problem which cannot be prevented is the rapid penetration of digital devices and technologies in the educational process. We barely see students that do not own a smartphone or tablet. Taking pictures of your lecture notes or simply downloading class presentations might help, but writing the matter on your own help with memorizing things. As we know, there are four main ways to remember something.

The majority of students (76%) claimed they work better with visualization processes.

So, you may wonder, but having a look at own writings will make you recognize the information better than someone’s else notes. After all, don’t be so sure that you’ll get the shitty handwriting of your classmate.

Anyway, it’s time to list the key success factors of recognizable notes for your home study. The first approach suggested by Hooman Katirai from the Business Insider is to separate  a "stimulus" from a "response." The stimulus is a hint of the subject or main question. The response is the brief, clear answer to this specific issue. Mind that the stimuli are to the left of a margin while the responses are to the right.

On the whole, an efficient note taking is an interactive process which involves the usage of the original notes many times in order to develop the awareness of targeted content, rather than evaluating note taking as just another off copying activity. To complete the puzzle, one should recognize four stages of note taking:

  • Taking
  • Making
  • Interesting
  • Interpreting

During the note taking stage:

  • Get ready with a template to take notes the same way. A central subject (lesson’s primary topic like “Working-Class of the South Gate” or “Eisenhower Presidency and Its Outcomes”) should be placed at the top of the page and draw attention to the key learning goal. A student should be able to discuss this objective upon leaving the class. 
  • Divide the page into two columns; let the first column be one-third of the page. The space on the left is for feedback that may be inserted later as a student reviews the notes. The right part is for making notes directly during the lecture, textbook reading, laboratory experiment, video, audio, whatever the source is.
  • Listen and take notes with respect to your own vision of the subject. If you are wrong with your interpretation, the teacher will point to it, but don’t try to figure out complex things on your own as you may get further confused.
  • Paraphrase or simply copy what you hear. You’ll have enough time to review your handwriting at home. The primary goal in-class is not to miss a thing.
  • Make sure to leave empty fields between the main ideas for revising and fulfilling later.
  • Involve own abbreviations and symbols not to waste time on huge sessions.
  • Puck only phrases; ignore the wordiness and full sentences. Capture only the main point.
  • Involve bullet points; checklists also help.
  • Distinguish significant information from the trivial one.
  • Ask your instructor to highlight the main issues in case you can’t get to the point.
  • Apply highlighters and other tools to make the primary ideas catch your attention from the first sight.

Note making stands for:

  • Reviewing and proofreading the content.
  • Completing the left-side part with questions and match them with the answer placed on the right side.
  • Connecting key chunks of material in the notes with the help of color or symbols.
  • Exchange ideas and collaborate with other students to check for understanding and test the comprehensiveness of each other’s notes.

Facing the stage of note interacting means:

  • Matching all the gained knowledge via preparing a summary that addresses the central question and answering the questions from the left margin.
  • Note that a summary is different from a reflection that focuses on the student’s response to the learning task or content!
  • Covering the relevant information in the right part of the paper and applying the questions as study prompts before a test.

Finally, to provide appropriate note reflecting you must:

  • Write some comments and receive a valuable feedback from either a peer, parent or your tutor to check is the learning phase has passed successfully.
  • Students should address the feedback by focusing on one area of challenge. In addition, students should also reflect over an entire unit on a regular basis leading up to exams and tests.