Note taking is a daunting task, especially for multiple classes a day. A typical high school student may feel like a computer-one that doesn’t have enough processing speed or RAM to keep up with 7 classes a semester, sometimes held every day. No fear, people.
Here are 12 ways to make note taking, and your general study habits more manageable, without you compromising all your time.
1. Good note taking starts with organization.
Make sure you have all your materials: textbooks, highlighter, notebook, syllabus or assignment sheets, folder, and pens/pencils. Good organization with your supplies right at hand makes for faster and better note taking, as well as studying. For class, invest in a good backpack. For homework, keep your books, class notes, and supplies in the same place, somewhere around a work station. If you want to be creative, use different colored notebooks or pens for each class. Just don’t get too overwhelmed organizing this part, because then the note taker just suffers more anxiety!
2. Let’s start with class notes.
Make sure to arrive on time, with all your materials to each class. If you develop this habit, it will become simple routine. You don’t have to overdo it by having all your supplies set and ready, but its always good to have the notebook and pen to jot down anything important your teacher might say at the beginning of class (announcements about the next assignment, or tips for your final paper).
3. Grab a seat near the front of the class.
If it’s assigned, you may be out of luck, but ask if you can switch so to better pay attention. It may sound cheesy, but it’s good discipline so not to get distracted.
There’s always going to be a subject you don’t like, but you’re there for at least 30-45 minutes, so might as well take advantage. Take some deep breaths before class, and focus in on the teacher. If you find your mind wandering, just let it pass.
5. Write down everything on the board.
Teaching styles are diverse, but usually, everything on the board is fair game for testing.
6. The most important thing to note, on your notes, is to make sure they make sense and are legible.
It’s not usually helpful to jot down random words without an explanation. Outline forms usually help, and there are many sites (as well as widgets/apps on Macs) that can help you get into this form.
7. In having a crisp organized notebook or binder of notes, dated, and neatly written, make sure before starting any other homework, to read over what you took for the day.
You have a greater remembrance rate by re-reading, and it will help make concepts (rather than everything the teacher said ) easier to understand.
8. On to homework notes.
Taking notes on your reading assignments, texts or novels, will make your class note taking EVEN easier. Start by setting time for your homework. It will help you focus. Outline what should be done that night hardest to easiest.
9. For reading, pick up a highlighter and take the reading apart in sections.
Three pages of one section are much better than reading ch.1 which could be 26 pages in total. Use the outline form again and use the book to your advantage: use the chapter title and section subheadings as key points.
10. Now read.
Read it once through and then go back over highlighting. If this doesn’t work, then try reading slowly over each sentence. By doing this, your comprehension gets better with every page. If you are highlighting every sentence, then you aren’t reading carefully enough.
11. Taking notes will help you to understand the next class.
Keep them on hand, and note any questions you may have. You can ask the teacher during or after class.
12. Keep at it.
The more you get into the habit, the better you’ll be. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to flip back to a history of notes, and to be prepared for tests.
Hopefully, these steps are serious and detailed, yet easy to follow. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s a great investment. Don’t be caught mucking through disorganized notes on your Saturday night! Ready. Set. Note take!