How to Take Notes that will make Studying Easier

how to take notes

When you’re dedicated to making the best of your educational opportunities, you know how important it is to take notes that will help you achieve your goals. It’s a waste to invest resources in higher learning if you don’t set yourself up for success and training for your future starts in the classroom. Every lecture presented by your instructors is intended to prepare you for exams and, perhaps more importantly, your chosen career.

Still, a pen and notebook alone aren’t enough to ensure you get the most out of your learning experience. Here are some tips on how to take notes that will make studying easier and pave the way for future success.

1. Start with good preparation before class

You can’t walk cold into a lecture and expect to take effective notes on the topic of the day. Most instructors follow a syllabus or course guide that will let you know how to prepare. If anything, look at your notes from the previous session. Use this information to get ready for the upcoming class by taking some time to create a rough outline of the material.

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Even if you are participating in online adult learning, it is important to be prepared.

2. Focus on your listening skills

One crucial step in learning how to take notes that will make studying easier is concentrating on the listening component. You must show up to the session with the right attitude, convincing yourself that this class is the most important thing to focus on at this time. In addition, be prepared to adjust as a lecture takes unexpected directions. Don’t “zone out” simply because a tangential question was asked or the instructor took a detour from the outline you’ve prepared.

3. Develop a note-taking method

Even with some great tips on note taking, there’s still some fine tuning you need to do to make the process work for you. For instance, some students learn best when they can lay out all sheets of notes side by side. Taking notes on one side of a paper is essential. You might also consider leaving blanks between paragraphs so that you can insert details later. Consider using your own set of abbreviations and shorthand terms so you can jot down phrases quickly.

4. Know what to write down

Part of knowing how to take notes that will make studying easier is filtering out what to write down and what isn’t essential. Refer to the guide provided by your instructor and the outline you’ve created in order to determine the material that’s most important. When your lecturer relates stories and anecdotes, you can eliminate most details while still jotting down the important points to take away.

5. Review and edit notes right away

Once class is over, set aside some time to make edits and review your notes while the material is still fresh in your mind. Clarify certain points where necessary and add details that you remember but didn’t have a chance to write down. If you wait even a few days, it’s likely that some of your notes won’t make sense; even worse, your memory will fade and you might neglect some information that may prove to be important later. Reviewing your notes while the details are still fresh in your mind ensures that you can fill in the blanks and include appropriate points.

6. Use notes to create an outline for the test

These tips on how to take notes that will make studying easier are most effective when exam time rolls around. You’ll likely have several pages worth of details and information, much of which you’ll be responsible for on the test. The best way to prepare is to review all your notes, whittling down each page by half to include only the most important points; reduce your notes by half again until you have just two or three pages representing everything you’ve jotted down. The act of repetition as you review the details will help you learn all the key points.

There are many skills you’ll learn as you embark upon your career journey, so it’s important to have a good foundation to build upon for your future. Taking efficient and effective notes in class not only prepares you for the final exam, but the process can also provide benefits once you’ve landed your dream job. Tips on how to take notes that will make studying easier ensures that you’re not spinning your wheels in learning or simply regurgitating quotes: You’re actually absorbing key information that becomes embedded in your knowledge, not details that are soon to be forgotten once you pass the test.

Even for adult learning courses, note taking is a skill that must be mastered like any other talent you learn and you will see results with regular practice.

About Author: The author for the College of Adult Learning blog posts is Helen Sabell.
This is her author bio: Helen is passionate about adult and lifelong learning.
She has worked with some of the leading names in the Australian university and TAFE sectors across her extensive career in the Education industry. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas. Helen also works with a select group of organisations consulting in People Management & Development, Education and Change. See Helen’s blog at the College for Adult Learning website here .

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