Stay Organized for Better Studying: 10 Note-Taking Tips for College
When you’re in college, one of the first things you learn is that studying is essential to pass your classes. Sometimes studying can become challenging, especially when the notes you took in class weren’t the best.
If you’ve been searching for some note-taking tips that will make reviewing for tests and other major homework assignments easier, you’ve come to the right place. By the time you’ve finished reading this post, you’re going to be a champ at taking informative notes.
Sit back, relax, and get ready to revamp the way you study for your college courses.
Table of Contents
1. Be Organized
One of the worst things a college student can be is unorganized. When you enter into college teachers, expect you to conduct yourself like the young adult you are, and one of the things that are expected of you is to be organized.
Whether that means showing up to class on time or keeping all of your study materials for when it’s time to study. The best way to be organized is to take the time and designate a different notebook for every class.
This will help you keep all of your classes separate and make it easier to find homework assignments, your syllabus, and the notes you took during your last class lecture. When you’re able to find the notes you’ve taken, it cuts down on the amount of stress you might feel when preparing to study.
2. Ask for Clarity
Taking notes means more than copying what your professor writes on the board or copying abbreviations of the things that your teacher is saying. We’ve all been in the situation where we go back to review our notes and look over something we’ve written and had no idea what it means.
If you’re taking notes and there’s something that you don’t understand, it’s best to ask your teacher for clarity. There’s nothing fun about being confused, and it becomes frustrating when you can’t figure out what your notes mean.
If you’ve taken more than a few notes that might seem confusing, you can always email your teacher or speak to them after class to ask for clarification. Professors are always willing to help students in their classes when they reach out for help ahead of time.
It shows that you’re taking the initiative and want to set yourself up for success in their class. If you don’t have time to stay after class or schedule an appointment because of other classes, you can always ask your professor if it’s okay for you to use a recording device in their class.
Once you’ve recorded the lecture, you can play it back later and fill in any notes that you missed during class.
3. Eliminate Distractions
When we’re in class, it can be easy to scroll through social media on your phone or do some online shopping on your computer. Do your best to eliminate any distractions and give all your attention to your professor.
Trust me, professors notice the students that are paying attention and the students that are busy doing other things when they should be listening during class. You’re going to want to listen because there are times when a professor will let you know that the things they’ve written or stated in class are going to be on your next exam.
And you’re not going to want to miss the opportunity to have the answers you need to pass an exam.
4. Color Code Your Notes
When you’re taking notes in class, you should have a few highlighters or markers with you. The reason for this is so that you can mark things in your notes that are important or that you might want to reference later on when you’re writing a paper.
You can use different colors for vocabulary that you need to remember or a specific statement that will be a homework or test question. Color-coding makes it easier for you to go back and find what you’re looking for rather than having to read through everything that you’ve written during class.
Color-coding is one of the best note-taking tips for college success.
5. Leave Spaces
When you’re taking notes, leave spaces between your notes. This is because it can get confusing when all your notes are jumbled together on one page. When you leave spaces, it gives you the ability to go back and add things you might’ve missed and read the notes easier.
6. Use Note Cards
We’ve all had that moment when we’re studying and quizzing ourselves on questions that will be on the big test, and we can’t help but peek at the answers. Notecards reduce the likelihood that you’ll be tempted to sneak a peek at the answer before you’ve given yourself a chance to answer the question.
Another great reason to use notecards is if you’re in a class that has a growing vocabulary. For example, when you choose the Institute of Medical and Business Careers, it’s a given that you’re going to have to remember quite a few terms.
And the best way to remember all the vocabulary that you will be quizzed on throughout the semester is to keep a collection of vocabulary note cards.
You can even select different colored note cards to represent the different chapters and units that the vocabulary words come from.
7. Have a Method
Instead of just taking notes, have a method before you get into the class. Whether that’s copying specific notes in one place and others in another, you want to have a plan that isn’t just copying everything being said.
There is nothing worse than copying a bunch of things that aren’t going to be on the test and are irrelevant. Instead, put on your listening ears and only copy down the things that are meaningful and copy them down in a way that when you review your notes, you’ll understand why that word or phrase was vital for you to know.
8. Rewrite Your Notes
This may seem like a punishment that was used time and time again when you were younger, but it’s helpful. Rewriting your notes is a way of reinforcing what you’ve learned, and it helps train your mind to remember what you’ve written.
You don’t have to rewrite your notes repeatedly, but taking the time to copy your notes at least one more time after class will help you retain more information than when you don’t copy it. If you’ve used a recording device during the lecture, you can always sit down and take the time to copy your notes as you’re listening.
You’re doing two times the memory retention because you’re listening to the lecture again, and you’re writing down the things that you’re hearing.
9. Cite Sources
This may not be something you think about when you’re taking notes, but the last thing you want to do is go searching through your textbook to find a specific citation. If your professor doesn’t offer the citation, you can always raise your hand and ask them where in the book this specific statement can be found.
Depending on your professor, they may have already listed the reading that was assigned for the week. And remember, we discussed being responsible and organized earlier? That means doing the reading that your professor assigned to you throughout the semester.
10. Use Student Resources
While it may seem like you’ve got to make time to use these resources, tons are available to students. These services may include Microsoft software that makes taking notes and being organized easier to do.
These resources may also mean visiting the tutoring center offered on your campus. And having a student tutor specializing in your subject area review your notes. They’ll tell you if you’re missing something significant, especially if they’ve had the professor in the past.
Note-Taking Tips: Class Is in Session
When it comes to note-taking tips that you’re going to use throughout college, you must take into account the ways to take notes provided above. Whether that means you take the time to color-code your notes and mark the necessary items.
Or rewriting your notes to commit more of the notes to your memory during your study time. We understand that college can be both challenging and enjoyable, and that’s why we want you to take some time to relax from all the studying you’ve been doing.
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