The first step to taking good notes in class is to come to class prepared!
Here in Pandai, we believe that being able to take clear comprehensive notes allows you to understand and learn the subject even better. Therefore, note taking is one of the most important skills to master if you wish to be successful in class and most of all;
Concentrate, come on!
Even better when concentrate, the notes you jot down provide a written record of the most important information covered in class, making life much easier when it is time to study for the final exam. Hence, note making is not just about writing down everything you hear or read. It is a process of reviewing, connecting and synthesising ideas from your teachers.
What are the benefits?
You will stay active and engaged during your learning, reading and Live Tuition session! With this, you will understand what you are learning and clarify your thinking by being selective towards the notes you’re taking and eventually identify the key ideas.
Also, you will remember the material better as your ideas are organise and structured. This will help you review and revise before exams effectively.
1. Keep your notes with your books
No matter what you’re taking notes on, it should be easy to carry with your reading material. Preferably small notebooks that can actually slide inside a book, but there are plenty of other options:
- Piece of paper that can double as a bookmark
- Post-it notes
- Writing directly in the book
2. Separate out your notes
Most notes can be divided between action items and details the way you want to retain. While reviewing your notes, it will come in handy when you’re looking for a particular piece of information. The best approach is to switch between different coloured pens or highlighters.
What your notes should contain
- Source information
- Big headings to help you identify the key topics
- Key points, examples, names, new ideas
- Interesting mnemonics, colour or drawings
3. Your notes should not-be-perfect
Notes can be beautiful— but it’s also a very time-consuming. If you can read your notes and understand them, it’s okay to have somewhat messy notes. After all, you’re probably the only one who will ever see them. Beautifully scripted and perfectly laid-out notes are not necessary for effective learning but some level of organisation is useful if you are going to be able to make sense of them in the future.
Don’t try and cram too much writing on a single page, or make your writing so small that it’s illegible. Use as much paper as you need to express all the ideas from the lecture in a clear and readable form. Draw diagrams or use flow charts or mind maps if they help you make sense of your ideas.
4. Stick to the Essentials
How do you know what is essential information and what isn’t? This can be tricky. Ultimately, whenever you aren’t sure about whether you should include something or not in your notes, it’s probably best to write it down.
- If the Teacher mentions something that also appeared in the textbook, it’s probably important.
- If the Teacher gives you a definition, you should write it down exactly as worded.
- If the Teacher brings up examples to support the main points, you should make note of each one.
- Anything that is written on a blackboard or included in a powerpoint should be copied into your notes: lists, graphs, historical dates, etc.
However, if you’re still not sure, don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it’s just to ask whether a point needs to be recorded in your notes or to clarify what are the most important things to take away from the lecture. In Pandai, our tutors love questions!
5. Review Your Notes
First, make sure all of the information in your notes is correct and accurately recorded. You may want to look over a friend’s notes as well to see if there is anything that you might have missed. Review the material in the notes as soon as you can so that it remains fresh in your memory. The most important step is the lecturing to the wall technique. Basically, you summarize in your own words what you just covered in class.
Look over your notes carefully; then put them away and pretend you are teaching someone else what you have just learned. This technique forces your brain to wrestle with the facts and identify the areas you are weakest in.
In short, these five simple steps should have you well on your way to note taking success. By learning how to take careful notes and then review them, you teach yourself to focus, listen attentively, and quickly learn new material.
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