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How To Take Notes — Study Smart With These Techniques

Team StoryWeavers|July 06, 2022, 16:46 IST| 18

how to take notes

Have you ever wished for study material that improves your conceptual understanding? Did you ever want a summary of your classes during your last-minute revisions? The solution could be at your fingertips — in your notes! 

Taking notes during classes is definitely a skill. One must be able to comprehend and note down key points before the teacher moves to the next concept. Like any other skill, you can improve at note-taking with practice and effective techniques. The ideal way to take notes is clearly between mindlessly writing down everything the teacher says and spending too much time highlighting and drawing diagrams. When done right, notes act as a great tool as they can propel your performance to new heights.

Why You Need To Take Notes

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When you are committed to taking notes in class, you will have no choice but to stay focused. While you are engrossed in making notes, your mind is less likely to wander since you will be mindful of what is being taught. What happens when you actually pay attention? Your notes improve parallelly with your memory and understanding. A 2014 study conducted by Princeton University and the University of California showed that students who take notes by hand performed better in conceptual questions. 

Note-taking is proven to help students learn better. Research on learning shows that taking notes engages students as they tend to actively listen and summarise concepts. This in turn helps them understand and retain information. Reviewing notes is a great way to revisit key points taught in class, which otherwise may not be mentioned in textbooks. 

Top Note-Taking Techniques 

Cornell Method

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This method was created at Cornell University in the 1950s and is an effective way of organising your notes, especially if you constantly refer to your notes for revision. In this method, you are required to divide each page into three sections: notes, cues and summary. The three sections together perform the following functions: 

1. Record: Use the notes section to record points during your classes. Make sure the sentences are crisp and do not exceed 5-6 words.

2. Question: Next, fill the cues section with potential questions based on the points you’ve taken note of. Ideally, this should be done right after a class or at most on the same day. You will observe that when you formulate questions, you strengthen your memory and get greater conceptual clarity.  

3. Recite: Cover the notes section with a sheet of paper. Now refer to the questions in the cue section and try to recall what you have understood from the notes. You don’t have to recite it verbatim. 

4. Reflect: Now sit back and ponder over these questions:

  • What’s the significance of these facts?
  • How can I apply them?
  • What principle are they based on?
  • How do they fit in the context that I already know?
  • What’s beyond them?

Doing this little exercise would reinforce what you have learned so far, making it less likely that you forget the topic.

5. Review: Reviewing helps you retain your lessons. Set aside sometime every week to review your notes. This not only helps in revising but also boosts your understanding of upcoming concepts. 

Outline Method

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The Outline method is a simple and easy way to take notes that most of us naturally follow. 

In this technique, you start by writing down the key points that are to be discussed during the class. Once the class commences, you start adding important points under these main headings. Remember to leave sufficient space for sub-points under each heading or key point. 

While this method organises your notes into a structured and logical flow of points, it may be cumbersome to review later. The Outline method may not make for the best revision notes but can definitely aid your memory during exams.

Mapping

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Mapping is a great note-taking technique for visual learners. Subjects that involve abstract concepts are a wonderful fit for this method as it allows you to visually track your classes. This method is especially useful when multiple topics are interconnected.

In this method, the main topic or heading is written at the centre of a sheet with connecting topics, ideas, and concepts branching out in different colours. You can assign a colour to each branch — for example formulae can be red whereas dates and events can be yellow. Mapping can maximise your participation in classes as it organises facts in the form of a logical map. 

Bullet Journaling 

This is a note-taking method that the artist in you will love. It’s colourful, aesthetic and a treat for a visual learner. If you like your notes vivid and artsy, then this technique is for you. 

As the name suggests, bullet journaling largely involves taking notes in the form of bullet points. But the technique is not limited to just that. You can turn a blank sheet into a colourful representation of your learning and thought process. You can doodle relevant diagrams and use highlighters to colour-code and organise your notes. 

A significant drawback of this method is that it is time-consuming. One often hardly has the time to stop to sketch during a class. But you can play around and make it work for you since there are no specific dos and don’ts for this method. One way to make it more effective is to combine another note-taking method, such as the Mapping or Outline method to make bullet journaling more effective. 

No matter which note-taking method you choose, know that it takes practice and patience to improve. Note-taking is a skill that improves your learning and you don’t have to be perfect at it. The takeaway is finding a technique that helps you take reliable notes that you can actually refer to during exams.

How do you prefer taking notes? Tell us in the comments below!

About the Author


As an introverted teen who loved reading crime-thriller novels, Ashritha knew she was destined to be a writer. Like Dumbledore, Ashritha is a strong believer in the magic of words. She finds joy in the little things — a long walk at dawn, sipping a cup of filter coffee watching the sunset, or rewatching old rom-com movies that make her heart smile.

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Comments



Lakshitaroy

July 23, 2022

This very helpful for me 👍🏻 and I improve my notes making skills thank you byju’s


Anshara Anam Malik

July 14, 2022

Thank you.. keep guiding us like this only .. thank you


Prashu

July 13, 2022

Thank you Byjus…..🤩


Sushmita patra

July 12, 2022


Dushyan.N

July 11, 2022

More tips and tricks please
Thank you


P.V MEHA NETHRA

July 8, 2022

Thank you 😊. Please send more tips for me


Pranjali Vivek Sonnis

July 8, 2022

thanks for giving me this guidance.


Rani Dashlaniya

July 8, 2022

Tq


Haindavi Paladugu

July 8, 2022

It really helped me a lot
My notes taking is improving day by day!!
Thank you ☺️☺️


Pratibha Singh

July 7, 2022

I really loved it
Your words are very true
Expecting more like this


Nikhil Gupta

July 7, 2022

We should take notes just after the class on the same day. So that the concept are revised multiple times. We should write neat and clean.
Please leave some space during making notes. After taking notes we should prefer lot of questions as they are very important to test ourselves. Now we should see how many questions have got wrong and why, if they were not in your notes , add them in space that we left earlier. These steps would definitely help any student of any subject to learn and simply revise the concept.


Mehar Afshan

July 7, 2022

Thanks 😊 a lot dear Ashthritha di for mentoring
This is really helpful


Albin

July 7, 2022

So inspirational


Snehal Somanna Kittad

July 7, 2022

This is really helpful to me thank you sir


Uday Sharma

July 7, 2022

Thanks Byjus team.


Swastika Sanghi

July 7, 2022

As I learn from BYJU’S the learning app, I’ve got all the lessons as videos which I can stop, replay and rewind any time. So I just learn the topic then play the video again in full speed and note down the relevant info 😉


LaAsYa

July 7, 2022

Quite helpful……….love how innovative u guys are…..


Arkoprovo S

July 6, 2022

Very innovative. Thanks to BYJU’S. It will help me very much.


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