Improve study and note taking skills

Improve Study and Note Taking Skills

Part of getting better grades in any class is being able to take notes properly. I have found that it takes practice, practice, practice but the rewards are great. Have you ever taken a page of notes then reviewed them only to find incomplete thoughts, incomplete references, and totally incomprehensible jibberish? I have and it is not a pretty sight. Until I learned and applied the following tips I was just going through the motions. Then at test time I had to burn the midnight oil to go back over the book and try to memorize facts and formulas.

For visual learners these tips are indispensible. An added tip was given to me by a master teacher who in college told me that if the professor writes something on the board, put it in your notes and highlight it. Why? There is a good chance it will be on the next test or on the final. Boy was that a piece of great advice. Also, focus and attention are paramount to taking good notes. Let’s just say that texting during lecture is NOT a good idea!

Here are some tips for taking class notes so that you can remember them at test time.
Four easy tips to implement right away:

1. Use colored pens and pencils
2. Highlight and underline important points
3. Include drawings, charts, graphs and figures
4. Do a summary on large paper

These tips are covered in much more detail in Improve Study Skills but here are the basic strategies of these note taking ideas.

1. Use Colored Pens and Pencils

If all your notes look similar it can be really hard to reference something specific. That’s why you should use colors to take notes. Use certain colors for certain aspects of the course.

When you do this regularly you will be able to scan for needed information the KEY POINTS stand out!

2. Highlight and Underline the Important Points

You can be creative by using multiple underlining of words, boxes around words and phrases, circles, arrows and shadows. All these can be used in varying degrees to bring attention to definitions and important definitions or formulas.

3. Include Drawings, Charts, Graphs and Figures

Many things can be expressed more easily by drawings than words. Relationships between objects, timelines, and concepts are sometimes hard to put into words. Combine this tip with tip #1, the use of colors and you will have a strategy that will not only be easy to follow but be a memory jogger at test time.

4. Do a Summary on LARGE Paper

Use large paper, A3 or 11″ X 17″, maybe a little smaller. There are a couple of thngs that you can do with this idea. You can get all the main points of a course on one page, or you can section each page into a subject, topic, or idea.

If you start making use of these four strategies, you’ll begin to notice note taking can be fun and not a drag. The thing that will excite you the most is that you will be remembering information easily and you will see your grades go north instead of south.

This will take practice and work to get your personal way of doing it down pat but it WILL work and become easier the more you do it. Take it from me – do it earlier instead of later!

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