Your High School Teacher Was Right
by Cayla Keiser | published Aug. 23rd, 2019
"You'd better write this down — it's going to be on the test," said every teacher ever in high school.
Most likely, you either responded by pulling out a billion colorful pens and color-coded notebooks, or rolled your eyes before proceeding to sit and listen to — or tune out — the following lesson. But there's a reason why your teacher always stressed notetaking, and why you should continue to heed their advice as you transition into college.
Without reinforcement, we tend to forget approximately 40 percent of all the information we learn in 24 hours. This is due to the curve of forgetting, which says that we will forget new information if we don’t work with it constantly.
Taking effective notes helps you “recall what has been learned and retain that information over time,” according to The Conversation, a non-profit news outlet authored by academics.
As you settle into courses and figure out which notetaking method works best for you in your new major, here are 10 tips for how to take the best notes.
"You'd better write this down — it's going to be on the test."
- Have a consistent structure for your notes. Whether you do an outline format, make flow charts or follow the Cornell Method, choose a structure and stick to it.
- If you prefer handwriting your notes, choose a writing utensil that feels natural to write with. Personally, I like G2 black ink pens or the mechanical pencils you twist at the bottom.
- If you're typing your notes, consider organizing them in files by semester, then course, then unit, then date. This will make it easier for you to refer back to them.
- Paraphrase notes in your own words, rather than write down exactly what the professor says. You’ll process the information better and ensure that you comprehend what was discussed.
- Color code or highlight key concepts. This will make your review more effective and help you actively understand the main points of each lecture.
- Take your notes twice. Write them initially during class, then either rewrite or type the most important information later on. This will not only help you study, but also give you a chance to refine your notes, either expanding on them or cutting unimportant details.
- Read the book or preview the lecture the night before. This is my personal favorite. Take notes from the reading or PowerPoint slides prior to the class. This way, you can simply add to them and highlight the most important points. You won’t be scrambling to write every bit of information down in class; rather, you'll be reinforcing it.
- If you ask a question, write down the answer. Chances are you asked the question to clarify a point, and you’ll want to remember the answer when you're looking back on the lesson.
- Review your notes right away, and even write a small summary at the bottom of the page. This will make certain that you understand the material and help you remember it.
- Go over your notes with a study buddy. This provides the chance to learn new ways of looking at a topic and improve information retention.