Last week I talked about a few tips that you can use to become better note takers. But all the tips in the world can be meaningless if you don’t know what note taking techniques should be used to maximize your effectiveness.
The issue lies in the fact that there are a million different note taking techniques out there, how are you ever supposed to know which one will work best for you?
That’s where this post is going to help you out. I looked through a LOT of different potential note taking techniques and narrowed it down to these three. Out of these three techniques, you should be able to pick one that you like and run with it to better, faster studying and better test scores.
You don’t need a fancy app to take effective notes. So let’s get back to the basics with these three note taking techniques.
Using either Roman numerals or bullet points is an effective way to capture the relationships between ideas and data. For example, if you are in a history class you would start by writing the down the name of someone important. Under that, you would be able to write down what it was that they did that was important. Beneath that you would write a quick note on why it was important.
If you are taking notes from a book, outlining is certainly the way to go. A lot of times authors will already have the information organized in a fairly effective way. You will be able to go from the beginning of a chapter to the end and reproduce the structure that is in the book.
For lectures, outlining can be a little more difficult. This is because the professor is likely jumping around a lot. Something that the professor says 45 minutes into the lecture may relate to something that he said 15 minutes in and you no longer have the room to write it down. Because of this, you will likely need to adopt at least one more technique to get effective notes in the lecture.
For lectures, mind-mapping might be the way that you want to go. Here is the idea behind mind-mapping:
In the center of your blank sheet of paper, write your main topic at that days lecture. As a “sub-topic” comes p in lecture, make a branch out and put that “sub-topic” in a new bubble. So on and so forth. This will allow you to go back to the first bubble if your professor has already moved onto the fourth.
Once your lecture is over, you will be able to go back an reorganize your mind map however you would like.
3. The Cornell System
Last but not least we have the Cornell System. This simple but effective system was created to help you increase your recall and make your notes more useful. Here you will be able to combine your typical way of note taking with some added detail. Here is how the system works:
About a quarter of the way up from the bottom of the page draw a line all the way across the width of your sheet of paper. Next, draw a line from your line to the top, about 2 inches from the right edge of the sheet. You now have three sections on your paper. In the largest section of your page, take notes as you normally would – either an outline or a mind map. The section on the right will be used after the lecture. You will want to write questions that you have based on the material that was just given to you. By doing this, you will have a great list of questions ready for you when it comes time to study for the exam. (cover the main section and try to answer the questions that you had on the right) In the bottom section, you will want to write a short summary of what you just learned in lecture.
Create a template in a word document and print out a bunch of sheets as soon as the semester starts and you will be ready to go.
Now that you have the tips to become a more effective note taker and some techniques to use, go out and take some fantastic notes and crush your next test.