To this day, I still struggle with note-taking. It seems so simple: just write down what the professor says, right? Wrong. It’s a struggle. Sometimes you get a professor who talks way too fast or makes notes complicated. There’s also the problem of writing too quickly and somehow the word “and” turns into “ftp.” In high school it was easy because the teachers would wait to see all the pens stop, but in a class of 300 students no professor is going to see the kid in the back still writing.
1. If the professor posts them, print them
This is the most important tip. If the professor posts them, print them out or at least pull them up on some type of device. There is no need to be panicking to write down every word before the professor changes the slide. It will help to re-write the slides, but not during class when you have to write down three long bullet points in ten seconds.
2. Re-write your notes
Do not wait until the night before the exam to look at your notes from class that by the end of the lecture look like a foreign language.
3. Bullet points and headings
When the professor starts a new topic, start a new heading and use bullet points until that topic is over. If there is a fact and then one that correlates to that fact make an indentation and a new bullet point.
4. Wait to highlight and color code
Highlighting and color-coding can be done in the re-writing process. There have been countless times I have watched a student struggle to grab a highlighter while they need to write down an important thought the professor just said.
5. Create a coding system
Create your own type of code mentally. Meaning, when the professor says something important make a star, square, triangle, dog or whatever will get you to look at that piece of information, do it. Put this symbol next to that “going to be on the next exam” fact because you are going to be angry if you knew you wrote it down, but forgot how important it was for the exam.
6. Listen to the professor
Students tend to look at what is on the slides and only write down that information. Listening to the professor and writing down their comments probably makes more sense than the sentences listed on the board. They are here to teach us, they make the exams, they make the quizzes and normally them talking in an informal stance can cause the information to make sense.
Let’s be honest: note-taking is not fun. Everyone needs advice on how to take notes every once in a while. Hopefully this helps create a more peaceful way of taking down information of importance and uselessness.