I’ve gotten a few requests on a post about how to take notes in college or just how I take notes in general. Learning how to take good notes is an important part of succeeding in college. Fun fact: I utilized these tips when I took notes in high school as well. Note taking in high school and college really isn’t much different (at least it wasn’t for me). If you’re a high school student, I urge to to begin using these tips now in order to prepare yourself for college! I didn’t really have a set way of taking notes until the end of my freshman year of college so I recommend playing around with some of these methods and figuring out what works best for you!
Hand write your notes.
This is important. Studies have shown that writing down your notes helps you remember the information much better. In addition, paraphrasing what you hear and putting it into your own words allows you to learn and retain the information much better!
Figure out an outline.
Some students can just write their notes on the page without much distinction between topics or slides. And that’s fine! But I can’t work that way. I’m always testing out different ways to organize and outline my notes so they’re super simple to read later. I will use bullet points, dashes, asterisks, and numbers in order to distinguish between topics. It’s totally up to you! I’m still constantly playing around with this but it would probably help to find a good method that stays consistent.
Use a method to make the important stuff stand out.
Typically, I’ll just use a different colored pen but there are other ways to make that important info stand out too such as bracketing around the important stuff, writing it in a different font, underlining it, or putting asterisks next to it. You can see what I mean in my notes on aphasia in the picture below!
Don’t write everything on the slides.
Unless the slides won’t be available to look at later. If your professor posts the slides online or emails them to you, there’s no reason to copy down every single thing on them. Instead, listen to what your professor is actually saying and write THAT stuff down.
Write questions in the margins.
When you’re going over the material and you have a question, write it down right away. Even if you don’t end up asking the question or it’s answered later on in the lecture, it can be helpful to look back on the questions you had while hearing the material for the first time.
Draw any charts or graphs that are helpful.
Even if it’s in the slides, I sometimes like to draw my own charts or graphs in my notes and label them in a way that is more helpful for me. Especially if it’s a class that is heavy on graphs and charts, it’s important to know the differences and what you should be looking at in each one! You can see an example in my Audiology notes below.
Notes aren’t just for class time.
Take notes on the chapters you’re supposed to read, take notes in your notes when you’re looking over them after class! Writing things down is more helpful than you probably realize, and you’ll thank yourself for it when test time comes.
What advice do you have for students on how to take notes in college?