The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
As a senior about to graduate, the saying “you can never teach an old dog new tricks” goes out the window. I have recently come across a way to study that has helped me retain information and clean up my rushed lecture notes. Since this method has worked out so well for me, I wanted to share it with all of you! If it doesn’t work well for you, then that’s totally fine. All that matters is that you do your best, and what works best for you.
Notebooks and a Binder
To follow my method of study, you’ll need a Large 3-ring binder, or two smaller ones, depending on your budget. To save time, buy 2- 5 subject notebooks. The number of notebooks/binders depends on how many classes you actually take notes in, but this is a basic set up.
Highlighters, colored pens, pencils, or whatever other writing utensils you feel comfortable using are more than welcome!
Your binder is where you will rewrite your notes for your classes, as well as add more information, but we’ll talk about that in more detail in a minute.
You will use notebook number one for the notes you need to take in class. The second notebook will be used for notes on the reading you complete for said classes.
If you’re using a laptop, it might be helpful to start a blank document for rewriting your class notes, or take reading notes, but my method is geared toward those who learn better through paper.
While taking notes, it’s better to note information that may be important for later exams, or essays. Highlighting these key points, terms, or phrases can make rewriting your notes easier and cleaner when you do start the process. This means you need to pay attention through the entire class (yes I know, that can be hard). Sitting closer to the front means you pay attention more, and are less likely to fall asleep or scroll on social media while in class.
Once you’re at home, rewrite the notes you took while in class. It’s best to rewrite them within the first 24 to 48 hours after your class. Not only do you retain the information better, but you recall other important details from class that you didn’t get the chance to write down.
Doing this for each class makes the learned information easier to retain, and for classes that are within the same subject, you will see connections between subjects and subtopics. For instance, the criminology classes I’m taking this year have to do with social control and moral panics on drugs and violence. Both of these courses connect through the notes I took, now I have a better understanding of the two view points that were taught in class.
Finally, you will work on your notes from the reading you complete for class. This may seem tedious, especially when you need to read 30-40 page academic essays, and this task will take up much needed brain power. Yet, note taking can really help you further your understanding of the material and remember the topics of each chapter when they’re discussed in class.
There are a few other things you can do to help you study, but I find these added steps to be tiresome when having a full 15+ credit schedule.
one thing you could do is compare the notes you took while reading and the notes you took during class. See which information matches, and gain a deeper understanding of the content as a whole. For some people this happens automatically when in class, but if you find yourself confused after a lecture, this added step may benefit your learning style! You can also go a step further and rewrite your reading notes, then put them in the same section as your rewritten class notes for more help.
You could also print out your readings if they’re online and annotate them, however, this process can also be completed on a tablet or in the Amazon kindle app if you would like to stick to a paperless study plan.
Finally, you can read your notes aloud. You can explain your notes to yourself as if you are giving your own personal lecture in order to better retain the information. I do this while rewriting my notes. It helps me stay focused on the task at hand, and hearing the information again helps me retain it better in the long run.
Color coding your notes and highlighting details can also make finding and retaining information easier, especially if you are taking an open note test. Try to make your notes fit your learning preference as best as possible. You can try any note taking style, such as the Cornell Style https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtW9IyE04OQ which can help you learn more and gain a better understanding.
Note taking and information retention is essential to the college experience. Notes keep you engaged in the material, and make sure your ready for exams, research papers, or anything else your professors throw at you. If this study method works for you, then great! If not, then try it your own way! There is no right or wrong way of taking notes…besides maybe not taking them at all.
Good luck in school guys! And don’t forget, you’re here for a reason. Whatever it may be, it’s a good one, you’re going to Ace this!