Taking good class notes is a skill that all students should possess. Without this valuable asset, students can struggle to understand or remember the lessons that they have learned in class. To improve your note-taking skills, try to accomplish the following:
1. Listen first
Most students take notes while the speaker is talking, but this can lead to fumbled and confusing notes. And, most students will not be able to learn by listening and writing at the same time, since it requires difficult multi-tasking that most students’ minds are not accustomed to. For instance, while listening and taking notes simultaneously, students have to listen, comprehend what is being said, remember what has been said, all the while writing the information down.
Students should learn how to listen and then take notes. This way, they can focus their entire attention to the speaker and what is being said. Then, they can keep that information, try to remember it, and then write it down. By writing down the information after it has been processed, students are better able to remember the information.
2. Keep the information active
Although a student may listen well, he or she might not take in the information completely. This is because many students fail to go back to their notes after class is finished (such as at home) and to re-remember the information again. This is a crucial step in the learning process, which must be done everyday for at least thirty minutes if the student is to really retain the information.
So, if you want to really learn a topic or subject, you have to take your notes, and then interact with it once you get home. As you write your notes in class, ask yourself some questions about the notes. Why is this information important? How can you determine the importance of this event? What happened before/after this event? Once you arrive home, answer these questions, either on the margins of your paper or in your head.
3. Compare and contrast
Make time to compare your notes with your classmates. This way, you can get many different perspectives of how the information was told. One person may have written a different part of what was said; people can think that different things are important. So, compare and contrast your notes, and fill in any missing information.
If a test is coming up, conduct a short study session with a few other people. Ask each other the questions that you wrote in your margins. How are your classmates’ answers different from yours? What determines this difference?
Once you start getting into the habit of being active with your notes and listening and then writing your notes down, you can improve your note-taking skills. Having great note-taking skills will allow you to achieve further success academically.