Tips & Tricks For Note Taking

As we are getting closer to midterm season, and well into the second month of school, you are probably taking notes and trying to organize all the information from your lectures. This can be a daunting task. I remember in my first year I use to highlight the entire textbook and all my notes while writing down everything on the slides word for word - not only did that take a great amount of effort and time but it also led to a great amount of stress. I barely had time to even study my notes. So by second year I developed some tips and tricks for note taking and things have been going a lot more smoothly.


Tip 1 - Write in Your own Words

Lecture slides are very in depth and sometimes professors use words that you don’t even know the meanings of. Write the lecture notes in your own words so you can easily understand what the topic is about- don’t write every little detail word-for-word as it just means too much to write and a good chunk of your time wasted. Paraphrase the notes in ways that are easiest for you to understand and can help you grasp the concepts.


Tip 2 - Write down the Professor’s verbal examples 

Even when your professor is going on and on about a subject, pay attention to their examples of the topic being discussed. Sometimes they’re better than the notes are- they could be explained a lot better verbally than on paper. They may even provide better examples or add examples that you can understand better, so listen for key words and key examples the professor might bring up. 


Tip 3 - Relate It to Your Life

If there’s a concept that is hard for you to understand, relate it to your life and life experiences. Using real life examples will help you understand the topic and what’s going on. If you can’t, as you go about your day-to-day activities, keep the topic in your head and see if any real-life situations come up that you can relate it to later. This works best in sociology classes and psychology classes.


Tip 4 - Physically writing it down

There are so many research studies that say physically writing stuff down helps you retain information better and memorize it. I recommend getting a cute notebook that looks good and makes you happy so it will motivate you to take notes and keep things clean and organised. 


Tip 5 - Use colorful pens and highlighters

This one ties into tip 4. Using colorful pens and highlighters to highlight important topics and information is critical for note taking and will help you tell the level of importance of what is being covered in that chapter. Using bright colors to make important concepts or words standout will help you pay attention and remember keywords in the lecture.


Tip 6 - Graphics

If you’re more visual I recommend using word webs and infographics to help you study and compare how things are linked together. Visuals help you see connections and relate important information, so when it ends up on a test you can mentally visualize what is connected to.