do you have tips on taking notes?
yes!! i have many, so i tried to make it easier for you to navigate :)
L O N G post ahead of you, covering lecture notes and readings notes, from a college senior :)
- i suggest using a notebook and pen, physically writing down. it’s easier to study, and since it’s using your body, you have a much higher retention rate on your side than if you use a laptop.
- i have used my laptop for taking notes before. it’s easier to take more notes, word for word, but that’s not always helpful. maybe that’s your style, especially if you enjoy rewriting your notes all pretty and more successfully when you get home. i am not that girl.
- more notes does not always equal better! it’s good for you to listen actively, selecting what is important and what is not. i take very thorough notes. i take a lot of notes. if you need notes for a missed class, i. am. your. girl. that doesn’t mean i write out everything word for word. selecting details, clauses, and images really helps me to not only keep up, but also to memorize later. plus, when you’re typing, it’s easier to type all the words out without really processing the whole meaning. remember that dense notes are harder to study
- finally, when you write by hand, you can get more creative with your style. occasionally, i’ll web notes out from one, rather than a traditional outline, bc it makes more sense for the topic
- it also helps my anxiety! so much! if i force myself to take great in depth notes, then my mind has to dedicate more brain space to the task at hand than to my anxieties.
- stick to one of these though. it really sucks to get into a test and realize you didn’t study half of your notes bc you forgot half were on your laptop. it’s awful lol.
- if you use a laptop, get used to how it works first. do u know how much i resent trying to switch from a bullet that is under other bullets (like this one, not filled in) to a main point bullet (the ones filled in). it can be so confusing. also make sure you use a program you like. you can take directly into documents, but i find that i really love evernote, as i can make notebooks for classes, stacks of notebooks for my college, and that i can tag notes with specific classes and topics.
- if you’re on paper, for fuck’s sake, divide your notebook into sections for classes. keep it all together. those notebooks with handy dandy dividers are so helpful, and they keep you from carrying around 5 notebooks at once.
- i wouldn’t worry too much about highlighters and such in class. there’s just so much going on then. save highlighting and color coding for later, and count it as studying.
- don’t worry about traditional outlining styles, with roman numerals or whatever. i take notes very simply. bullets/dashes, subnotes under a broad note.
- do it how it makes sense to you! maybe that includes different bullet styles, different places for different types of information (on a simple level, i start writing chapter numbers and titles as far to the left as i can go, over the margins, in bold and capital letters. i also usually go over these later in a certain color marker)
- in some classes it is helpful for me to write the topic along the top of the page in a highlighter (color coding is lovely) the main idea/topic for each page. the classes this was most obviously helpful in were astronomy (COMETS or BLACKHOLES etc) and shakespeare (MUCH ADO ACT 2 or ROMEO etc)
- it’s easiest to just note page numbers of referenced complex diagrams, as they are usually in your reading or accessible online
- your style might look different in each class. whatever works.
- note everything (everything) your professor writes on the board. if it’s important enough for your professor to write it, it’s probably important enough for you to write it.
- note examples only if it’s helpful for your memory. however, make light note of things like famous people and their science/psych experiments. but in math and such, note! the! examples! and! reasons! will help you so much.
- examples that have emotion, imagery, or sound are going to be more helpful. applicable examples are most helpful. good professors will lecture you accordingly. lazy ones will not.
- star anything that the professor stresses or hints will be tested. anything that they say is a major theme or whatever.
- note main ideas/points/themes, definitions, conclusions,
- use your tests to help you figure out what you need to know. ask questions about the tests too. in every class i’ve taken, i’m totally shocked at how willingly people ask about exam format and how willingly the professor will tell us how it will work. they want you to succeed.
- people learn differently! i suggest taking notes in class and later adding touches that help you. count it as study time too. a warm up, if you will.
- if you’re visual, this might include highlighting, color coding, drawing diagrams, etc.
- if you’re an auditory learner, reading the notes out loud and organizing them accordingly, as well as making up rhymes, rhythms and such, might help you. some auditory learners actually like to record lectures and listen to them later.
- if you learn best through movement, rewriting or making flashcards will be great for you.
- sometimes professors go really. fuckin. fast. why. idk? but
- dont be afraid to ask them to go back a slide bc i guarantee, you will be the class hero for asking
- develop a little bit of shorthand. sometimes i end up using initials, arrows, abbreviations… this is where i got “bc” and “thru” and “u” and such. lol. also, list things vertically, rather than using commas and “and/&/+) it’ll be more clear later
- some professors you literally cannot take notes on. it sucks. you’re going to need to do the readings and pick their brains on how the test will be to figure out how to prepare. take home tests are your best friend. thank god for them. seriously. get your butt to church and do some worshipping.
- if your professor puts powerpoints online, save the powerpoints, ya never know.
- look at inspiration if you want, but remember that notes on studyblr are usually copied from class notes. if you’re too focused on how pretty your notes are, good luck to you
- finally, the day before an exam, i review my notes that i have (hopefully) been studying. i like to make a one page cheat sheet / study guide on everything i didn’t remember, leaving out everything i understand, memorized, or want to disregard.
ima be real and tell you i hardly ever do reading unless i will be tested on it in class in multiple choice. and im an english student. ye i suck, i know. i dont condone shirking the system but u know what, reading shakespeare or 18th century lit literally makes me want to kill myself. so, im a senior in college, and have barely ever done the reading for a class. the thing is, if you do it right, anything is better than just reading the words on the page and not getting the meaning. dont be a reading zombie. read actively, even if it’s not the actual reading. doing this, i have a 3.9 gpa. so. there’s hope for us yet.
first of all, yall need to do your damn reading. idc how. but due to the fact that a test will be multiple choice, essay answer, a presentation, or a paper, you’re going to not love pulling nothing out of your ass. can be done tho. just be fake deep.
that being said, i’m writing a lot below, but the reality is that if it’s lit, your notes dont have to be longer than a sentence. if it’s a textbook, more.
- the same formatting question comes into play here, except it’s should you take notes in your book or in a notebook?
- listen i’m always going to be pro notebook, pro physically writing it out as it helps me really get the information into my head, rather than more passively highlighting
- i tend to do both, if im willing to mark up a book. i underline and highlight things that stick out to me, and i write them down as well. sometimes when reading literature/essays, if i know the contextual/meaning notes will be interesting to me later, i will copy notes both into my notebook and also less in depth onto post it notes (which also make sweet little flashcards btw), which i will stick into the passage. this is so helpful when a) im reading it again later and b) when we are discussing a passage in class
- buy used books. it’s cheaper. until it happens to u, u do NOT UNDERSTAND how EXCITING it is to get a book that has highlights and underlines in it ALREADY. DUDE. my work is basically DONE for me. now take that lightly, bc often different ppl will highlight different pieces of information. however, it is helpful.
- look up summaries. do not simply rely on cliffsnotes and sparknotes, esp since professors are very aware of these. google “title of book, summary, chapter notes, whatever youre looking for” and use the blog posts, the book reviews, the papers that come up. does this method probably take a bit longer? maybe? but it’s easier on my tired brain.
- if you don’t have time to read your textbook one day and really want to, read the introduction and the conclusion to the chapter, or the first and last sentences to the paragraphs. it’s not great, but it’s something.
- like your lectures, note definitions, conclusions, and helpful examples, as well as people and dates. if i’m reading literature and i’m deciding to be a smart student i will keep several logs as well. these logs will make it so. easy. to study for your exam:
- updated character lists, including name, relationships, and anything defining and important
- scene/chapter summaries, just a sentence summarizing what happened where
- any quotes or themes that stand out
- i highly highly highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the well educated mind for note taking on a range of genres. this is what i had to use through high school and while it’s involved, it’s incredibly helpful.
- if you’re going to have to cite your notes, note the page number in the margin every time you flip the page
- the biggest issue i have with reading is when and where to do it. before or after class? always ask your professor if they do not tell you. where in your notebooks? i always do it on the next blank page bc leaving space stresses me the fuck out. make notes on the top of your pages of corresponding lectures/readings.
for both lectures and readings i really really really suggest either having something to drink or something to snack on (think fruit, loose nuts, m&ms. small loose things rather than things u bite? idk they just last longer?)
okay i hope this was somewhat helpful even tho it’s an incredibly longwinded post. it seems like a lot, but the reality is that while i take a lot of notes, i don’t make them complicated, i don’t have rules, i just do what feels right in the moment. they’re not at all stressful. just take it easy and do whatever works for you :)
if anyone has other tips, feel free to reply :)