Remembering information that your professors discuss in class can be a challenge, especially if you are taking classes continuously. That is why taking notes in an organized manner can help you to absorb information in the present and recollect it in the future.
Experts say that taking notes in class has two main functions. Firstly, note-taking keeps you attentive, active, and accountable during lectures. Secondly, taking notes in class produces better recall which is crucial for your performance in exams. Hartley and Marshall (1974) say that students who take notes in class benefit from increased concentration in class. Keeping in mind the various benefits of note-taking, let us look at the top five ways, according to neuroscience, that you can use to take better notes during your lectures.
1. Choose from a range of note-taking methods
Every student has their individual ways of taking notes. However, if you are trying to improve how you take notes regularly, then here are some proven methods that you could consider.
- Cornell method: This is one of the most popular note-taking strategies. In the Cornell method, you would divide a page in your notebook into three sections. ⅔ of the page on the right side is where you will be writing notes in class. Mention concepts and details in this section but no need to worry about order here.
Once your lecture is over, use ⅓ of the page on the left side to write questions or topics relevant to the information you have written on the right side. Finally, use ⅓ of the area near the bottom of the page to summarize all of the information written on the rest of the page.
- Mapping method: The mapping method is a visual tactic for organizing your class notes. In this method, the main idea is listed in a circle in the middle at the top of the page. The main topic then branches out into subtopics mentioned underneath in circles and linked to the main topic through a line. Any detailed information can be listed below each sub-topic. This method will allow you to remember the connection between various topics discussed in class.
- Outlining method: In the outline method, you use headings and bullet points to organize your notes. Begin note-taking by mentioning the main topic at the top of your page. Place the first subtopic below, slightly to the right, and list all key points underneath the same. Repeat the process with other subtopics and details. This method will help you to remember the general flow of your class lecture.
- Charting method: Charting method utilizes columns to organize and review information. At the top of the page, you would mention the main topic and then divide the page into three columns listing a particular category. When any information about a category is discussed, note it down under the proper column. When the professor discusses the next topic in the same category, go down one row in the same column and continue taking your notes.
2. Connect new concepts to ideas you already know
Instead of focusing only on the words that are being spoken, try to absorb concepts and principles by connecting them to what you are already familiar with. It is a good idea to mention references and similar topics in your notes in order to bridge ideas together and improve your overall understanding of a subject. Also, pay attention to sentences that make logical connections between concepts.
Though it is easy to note down details like names and formulas, it is in remembering the overarching concepts tying all those details together that students benefit the most from. Becoming comfortable with challenging concepts is more likely going to help you score well in exams.
3. Write less and listen more
Typically, we tend to write down as much of what a speaker is saying as possible in order to avoid missing something important and falling into mistakes later. We also do this because we stress on accuracy and perfection in our daily lives. However, studies show that we are more likely to remember information if we make it social and verbalize it to another person.
Therefore, it is essential to focus on and listen to a speaker and identify the main points of their speech. Connect with these points later in your revision and consider which of them is critical and need further examination on your part.
4. Use visuals whenever you can
Data shows that people process visuals almost 60,000 times quicker than text. In fact, most people are said to be visual learners which is why marketers today extensively use graphic design to demonstrate concepts and ideas.
In the same vein, incorporating visuals in your note-taking habits can make it easier for you to retain information. For instance, you could color code your notes and allocate a different color each to the main topic, subtopics, and key details. You can use specific colors to highlight priority areas; for instance, the color red can be used to indicate critical information that you need to revisit. In addition to color schemes, you can use graphs, symbols, and sketches to make it easier to remember details.
Thus, a structured approach to note-taking can help you to study better and achieve your learning goals. For a better note-taking experience, consider using Amanote, a software solution that allows you to take high-quality notes during your presentations, lectures, and conferences. Amanote makes it possible for students to take clear and comprehensive notes directly related to the study material by offering a range of features like audio recordings, formulas and tools, etc. You can save more time for your preparation and also share notes with friends. For more information, check out Amanote’s online demo today.
5. Revisit your notes and evaluate your note-taking
Once your class is over, take some time to revisit or transform your notes. You can add to them by using reference material from books or online resources. Compare your notes with your peers’ and try to teach the material that you have learned to someone else. If your notes do not seem effective during your revision time, then you need to make changes to your note-taking strategy.