Note-making is something different from note-taking. To take notes means a passive procedure of recording the words of the speaker. While note-making requires your active participation in the learning process. It demands your full attention in the class.
In note-making, you must be alert to the pattern of thought, its sequence and development. You also have to distinguish between the important or unimportant points that you note down during the lecture.
This active involvement makes note-making a task somewhat more difficult than note-taking.
At the same time, it has a lot of benefits for you.
When the time comes to review or revise the topic, your organized notes help you recall and summarize information, and understand the topic comprehensively. It saves your time as well since you don’t have to trouble yourself with the separate series of fragmented lectures or chapters.
Tips For Taking Good Notes
The quality of your notes depends upon how you take notes during the lecture. So to make good notes, you first have to learn how to take good notes. These good notes will help you later in reviewing your content and understanding concepts that usually fade as the topic gets older. The following are some tips for taking good notes:
- You must have a notebook and pen with you while you are attending the lecture.
- You must be attentive during the lecture and write down all main points about the topic that your teacher is currently discussing in the class.
- You have to write quickly in order to keep pace with the teacher’s explanation.
- Note down all important dates, years or names carefully and correctly.
- Take notes in a notebook instead of loose pages. In this way, there would be a less chance of their getting lost.
- Use a pen instead of a pencil. Pencil tends to smudge in time and your notes become unreadable while the permanence of the pen suggests clarity and neatness.
- Use abbreviations or symbols to save your time (such as e.g. ,&, =, ASAP, govt.)
- You can also shorten the names of writers, places etc. to save your time (e.g. Sh for Shakespeare)
- Be careful, however, not to create so many symbols or abbreviations that you end up confusing yourself or forgetting their real names.
- Write all ideas or details in sequence as lectured by the teacher.
- If your teacher repeats some point, mark it as important. It will remind you that you’ve to pay more attention to it.
- Make a habit of reviewing your notes within 24 hours. It will help to imprint everything in your brain that you learned during the lecture.
Use Note-Taking Strategies
Here are some note-taking strategies that will help you to take better notes during the lecture:
The First Strategy: The Cornell Method
This method is simple and easy to use. In this method you’ve to divide your page into three sections: note-taking area, cue and summary.
Note-Taking Area: Use this section to take notes during the class.
Cue Section: Use this section after lecture, especially when you are at home. In this section, you can add important points, dates or details about the topic. Later, it will give you cue to remember important points or ideas relating to the topic.
Summary Section: Use this section to summarize the whole topic. You can utilize this section right after class or later at home.
The Second Strategy: Mind-Mapping
Another method of taking good notes is using the mind-map strategy. It is a visual way to organize your notes.
In this method you write a main topic and then divide it into subtopics. The subtopics look like the branches of the main topic. You can add details to the subtopics for better understanding.
You can use this method when you are studying subjects like arts, science and history. I highly recommend this method as it is very appealing. A neatly organized map has a tendency to imprint the order of events in your mind.
The Third Strategy: The Outline Method
In this method, you take notes by dividing the topic into headings and writing details in bullet points under these headings. It is the simplest and easiest way to make notes.
The outline method of taking notes also saves your time and energy since you don’t have to go into details. You just have to write information in points. Your notes also look neat and organized this way.
Later you can easily make questions from the headings. You can pick up any strategy that suits you. If you have devised your own particular method of taking notes, then it’s very good. You can go ahead with it.
Tips for Making Good Notes
After taking notes, the time comes for note-making. This task enhances the understanding of your topic as you are going to write down the same things for the second time; but this time in a more organized and detailed manner. Following tips will be useful for you in making notes:
- The first thing you’ve to do in making notes is to organize all the written material.
- Keep in mind the specific points and elaborate them in the form of paragraphs. Assign each paragraph a suitable heading.
- If your paragraph is too long, divide it into subheadings.
- While elaborating the points, keep your focus towards the main topic and exclude all unnecessary details.
- Always use markers for headings. You can use different color markers as well.
- Make your notes according to the nature of the questions asked in exams (paragraphs for explanatory answers and points for MCQs)
- Do not merely rely on the class lectures. You can explore library books, guides and internet resources (education websites) to get further knowledge of the topic.
- Utilize all the knowledge that you got from different sources in your notes. A thorough research of the topic increases understanding of the topic and also the credibility of your notes.
- Always prove your statement with sound evidence. It increases the worth of your answer.
- Note-making also tests your understanding of the topic. If you find any point that seems unclear, you can immediately ask your teacher.
You should always remember that well-researched, organized and thoughtful notes not only help you in reviewing the studied topics, they are also very useful in optimizing your good grades!