Note taking is a primary tool that all learners use.
Why do we use it?
Primarily to remember what we learned.
It is a miniature learning practice that helps you to learn while listening to a lecture or class.
Not taking any notes makes it difficult to recall as we are bound to lose the ‘short-term memory’ effect soon after.
For those of us born with a photographic memory, that is a different story.
For the rest of us, note taking should be streamlined in our education process.
I have outlined a few steps for note-taking.
You may be using it already for all I know.
There are no hard and fast rules.
Just use the one which makes it easier for you to study.
You may even be using something I did not outline here.
Just remember this. Note taking should help you to recall whatever you learned not only with perfect clarity but you should be able to use that to move forward in your studying.
Here are my 4 favourite steps for note taking:
Step #1 – Reflect
The first rule of thumb is to reflect on what is mentioned.
If you feel that it is relevant, reflect on it and write it down.
Your note taking should be about your reflections, really.
And you should not miss a beat.
I will outline various methods of doing this below.
Step #2 – Receive
Receiving information is a top priority.
Did you listen to the key points?
Did you manage to understand the gist of it?
Always receive information by making short notes immediately while listening.
You may review it later and digest it at leisure.
Step #3 – Recollect
When you jot down your notes, the only important factor is if it will be easy to recollect.
Will you be able to recall when you read it?
Does it contain sufficient information?
Is it detailed enough?
Are there enough points there which will help you in the future?
Step #4 – Review
Reviewing is for revision purposes or to make sure you got your information intact.
Always review at the end to ensure that you have understood and try to commit it to your memory.
Review your notes and while doing so, add some after-thoughts.
These will help to ingrain the ideas which were presented to you.
3 Methods for Note Taking
Method #1 – Mind map
This is one of the easiest ways to take down notes but it should be organized properly.
Mind maps tend to look very messy when you are revising.
Balloon mind maps or dialogue box mind maps are one of the easiest ways to write down your notes.
Organize your points by giving space in your paper.
You may delineate the top, middle and bottom space for 3 balloons.
This way, you will know that it was during the first, second, and after segments of your lecture or study.
It will appear to be more readable too.
Method #2 – Point form
This is just like writing the PEEL format for your essays.
You may write it as a Point, Evidence, your thoughts, and eventually the connection to the topic or link back.
Practise writing your points in the same PEEL format per idea.
Keep it simple and engage in simple words which will trigger off the rest of the ideas which you gained from there.
No need to be concise. It will take up too much time.
Method #3 – Column form
This is to dedicate the left to the right side of the paper with points.
The left being the point, the middle being your thoughts and the right side could even be a diagram or flowchart depicting the flow of your thought process.
Write down the main connecting idea using the flow chart so that you can see the development of ideas stemming from the first one.
If you use this form, you will like the way your ideas take shape gradually.
In the end, you need to Gauge.
Without being able to assimilate your notes at the end, the whole process is pointless.
I mean, you will need to look back at your notes and recall with perfect clarity.
The notes should be a part of your files.
If you choose to store them on your phone, you should give them suitable titles or sequence them according to dates for easy access.
It is not only the note taking itself but being able to use the notes later which is important.
I have left you with quite a few note taking steps and methods, some of which I have used myself.
I hope that you will find them useful in your studies. Good luck!