Great note-taking skills can help you do well at school, preparing you for classes, essays, and exams. It’s a skill that will serve you all of your life, yet it rarely gets taught.
We’re here to help with fourteen strategies to incorporate into your note-taking routine to maximize your academic results this school year:
Add the date and title: You’ve been told this trick for years, but it’s worth a reminder. Never lose track of which class your notes belong to with a date and the title of the course.
Leave space: Leave space to add in more information whether you ask a question in class.
Get decorative: Use doodles, boxes, drawings, different coloured pens, and highlighters to make important points stand out.
Take notes in your own words: Whether listening in class or reading a text, write down the text in your own words.
Add examples: Especially helpful for math and science subjects, write down the example the teacher shares in class and label all the steps; this will be an invaluable reference when studying.
Pay attention to what’s on the board: If your teacher wrote something on the board, you could be sure it means they want you to take notice. Write it down and highlight it in some way.
Review your notes: The day or weekend after class spend 20-30 minutes reviewing your notes and take note of any questions you have remaining.
Rewrite your notes: For some people rewriting notes into a Word Doc or in Google Docs helps them to organize their thinking, note areas of difficulty and have easy to read study notes.
Mnemonic devices: These are helpful for remembering the tricky material. Remember BEDMAS (brackets, exponents, divide/multiply, addition/subtraction) from middle school? Make up your own mnemonic device to memorize.
Write down all your formulas: Highlight these in your notes. Write them down first when studying and do this during an exam, too.
Make a study guide: Will your notes be used for a test? Take the time to combine your in-class notes and any reading into one document.
Add important dates to your agenda: Use your notes to help you plan how much time you will need to prep for a test. Add in dates to review and consolidate your notes in an agenda.
Use sticky notes: Did you come across some relevant information but run out of room on your paper? Write or draw down the new info on a sticky note and put it on top of the section of your notes it belongs too.
Figure out your method: As the year progresses, you’ll start to see a pattern emerge for how you like to take notes. The best way to take them is in a way that works for you! Keep it up!