Tips For Taking Notes and Studying

It’s that time of year, classes are finishing up the first few chapters and exams are starting. After a long summer, it’s hard to get back into the groove of note-taking and studying efficiently. I definitely struggle with it myself, but after my first year of college I have learned what works best for me and I continue to learn how I can be more productive with my studying.

Note Taking

I used to think that color coding my notes was the best way for me to learn and retain information from my classes, but that only lasts a few weeks at the beginning of the semester and then I lose motivation because it’s time-consuming. It looks pretty, but I realized that I don’t even go back and review my notes that often when I study so it was just a waste of time. 

This year, I started organizing my notes more simply, with the headers highlighted and simple bullet points underneath. It’s less time consuming and easier to go back and find specific information. I've also been typing the notes from the slides before handwriting them. I do this because that way I can visualize how I would write them, plus I get to go over the information twice and I have it all in one place. When I have time, I’ll handwrite those notes, review the content, and that will also be my studying for the upcoming exam. So far, this technique has been efficient and helpful for me.

Example of my Biological Anthropology study guide notes


Everyone says that it’s better to study ahead of time instead of last minute, but that’s not true for everyone. I consider taking notes after class as a review as studying, but then I also have to study more thoroughly right before the exam. If I don’t look back at my notes or review them too far before the exam, I’ll just forget the information and blank out during the test. 

A lot of my professors provide study guides or outlines of the chapters covered in their exams, which is extremely helpful and time-saving. I learn and retain information best when I write things down by hand, compared to reading or using flashcards. I figured this out around the second or third year of high school, but I wasn’t quite sure how to use this knowledge of myself to to advantage. I finally realized that I memorize things very well if I write it over and over the night before and then review in the morning. That’s why I study the night before and the next day before a test.

Of course, everyone has different preferences for taking notes and studying, so you just have to go through trial and error to find what’s best for you. Hopefully this has given you some ideas or inspiration for how to take notes and study more efficiently. Happy studying!