Taking Effective Notes

The Most Fundamental Way to Boost Your Study Efficiency!

Posted by Ella Koay on September 9th, 2020

One of the most crucial aspects to success in university is having effective notes to study with. While professors and textbooks are an abundant source of information, having good note taking techniques will ensure that you retain much of their info and efficiently study for your exams, without having to waste time inquiring from other sources. Everybody has their own style of note taking that works for them, and I’m here to share with you the style that works best for me!

The first step is to choose what you’re going to take your notes on! There are two commonly preferred choices in university - a digital notepad or paper. There are several pros and cons to each format. Digital, among other things, is safer - you’ll never lose your notes. You also will never “run out of paper” using the digital format. The best part is that you can annotate directly on the professor’s notes. However, buying a tablet or a two-in-one laptop is quite pricey. Writing on a tablet can feel awkward at times to some people. Never type up your notes with your keyboard! Because whatever notes you typed up will be forgotten in your mind afterwards.

On the other hand, there is more freedom in designs and illustrations on paper. Where I can draw and link whatever I want together without limitations. If you’re not tech savvy (like me!), it is easier to understand. Additionally, there is a feeling of satisfaction to completing a well-written and presented set of notes. There are several drawbacks with writing your notes on paper. One of them being that it takes longer to fix mistakes made. It can also get quite messy when you have several courses worth of notes on your desk at the same time. Finding specific information within your notes means more than ctrl+f.

As you can see, I prefer to hand write my notes on paper! These drawbacks could not stop my love of stationery purchasing. I have a room full of PENS. Fineliner, markers, colour pencils, calligraphy pens, etc. available in almost every shade in every colour. Of course I needed to find a use for them. And taa-daa! Writing notes by hand is one of my only solutions to fully utilize and unleash their potential. I begin by reviewing the provided course notes provided to me before the lecture, highlighting the main points and making a set of pre-notes for myself. During the lecture, I will add additional notes as the professor elaborates on some main points that they deem crucial to remember. After class, I like to spend some time adding some aesthetics to my notes, adding pretty fonts for titles, subtitles through different colours and thicknesses to denote different categories. This gives me an incentive to read them, as I would otherwise believe the notes to be too bland and boring. Before a test, I would use these notes to create a mind map for myself. This helps me recall all the important points which were talked about several weeks ago.

These are the tips and tricks I use to keep my notes as focused and effective for my own studying style. Of course, you may think that spending time to make your notes pretty could be a complete waste of time, and that’s fine. The main takeaway of this blog is to ensure that you develop your own steady habits and incentives for you to take good notes, on your path to success in university. Thanks for reading!

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