January 17, 2018

Effective note taking strategies

Effective note taking strategies


As I mentioned in a previous blog, just taking notes in class does not mean that you have effective note taking skills.  If you are just copying notes down without processing them, then you are not actively participating in the learning at that moment.

Here are some helpful hints to help you be a more effective note taker which will lead to becoming a more effective learner!

Copy down what your teacher has written AND anything he repeats more than once. 

 This will be very useful when you go off to college! That is difficult for many students to do, because they have been “trained” to just copy what the teacher has written on the board. But what is the point of you taking notes? (No, I’m not siding with you – it is important to do!) 

 Notes should be used as a tool of reflection.

 When you have to look back at how to solve a math problem, or what the correct format of business letter is, your notes should give you this information.  Write legibly, they are for you, not the teacher.

 As the teacher instructs, she explains things too (hopefully!).  Perhaps there is something he said that didn’t quite make sense. 

 What do you do then? 

 Write your own notes in the margin.

This is the perfect place for you to jot down questions to ask your teacher or tutor later.  Maybe you missed the teacher giving an example of homeostasis – make a note in the margin so you can ask her later.  Put a big question mark off to the side to ask for clarification on the three motives of the main character in the novel you are reading.

 Do you ever find that there just seems to be too much information to remember? 

 Do you get overwhelmed when you look through your notes when you’re trying to study for a test?

Create an “Important Information” sheet.

When you flip through your notes to study for a test, your brain is trying to process everything it sees whether you are aware of it or not.  It’s a lot of information to sort through and you don’t want your body to react to it as stressful.   In math, for example, there are a lot of formulas to remember.  You don’t want have to search through all your notes and give yourself stress over the amount of material there.  Instead, create a chapter by chapter cheat sheet – aka “Important Information” sheet.  On it will be the formulas and a brief example or explanation to remind you what to do with it.  Now, when you get stuck, you don’t have to re-read all your notes to find that one formula – just turn to your Important Information sheet!

 Now that you are an effective note taker, you have the tools you need to prepare for upcoming quizzes and tests. 

 How do you study for a test?  Find out here!