6 Note-Taking Tips for College Students

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Taking notes is essential for getting the most out of your college classes. Whether you're taking lecture notes in class or online, you need an effective system for writing down important information that you'll be tested on later. However, many college students still struggle to find a note-taking routine that works for them. If you're in this group, you can empathize with this all-too-familiar frustration.

Good note taking is more intentional than many students realize. But with these note-taking tips for college students, you'll be on your way to better grades and less academic stress.

1. Use a Physical Notebook if Possible

According to recent studies, physically writing your notes engages more of your brain than digital note taking. Most experts recommend buying a physical notebook that you can organize easily with enough space to hold as much content as you need. When you write your notes on paper during a lecture, you'll remember them better, leading to greater success.

2. Only Jot Down Pertinent Information

One of the hardest aspects of note taking is knowing what to include and leave out. Don't try to jot down everything your professor says. Instead, listen for specific bits of information that you'll likely use later for exams, papers and projects. Your professor may give verbal cues as to which information falls into this category as well.

3. Stay Organized With Your Note Taking

Organization is key in good note taking. However, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to this task. Aside from the essential organizational elements of categorizing your notes by class, date and unit, we suggest organizing your notes by subtopic discussed in the lecture. Play around with bullet points, charts and similar methods that keep information in a logical order until you find a method that works for you.

4. If You Must Take Digital Notes, Choose a Good Note-Taking Program

If you need to take notes on a laptop or tablet, choose a note-taking program that allows you to take and organize notes quickly. Some user-friendly word and note-processing programs include: 

 

  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Evernote
  • Pages (for Mac)

Wherever you take your notes, make sure you have designated class folders and a filing system for each so that you can easily revisit your notes when you need them.

 

5. Read Your Notes Regularly

Remember — your notes are there to use! Don't wait until the night before an exam to start reviewing your notes again. Set aside some time after class and the weeks before an exam to review your notes. This practice will help you retain information and identify gaps in your knowledge while you still have time to fill them.

6. Write Down Questions for After Class

When you aren't able to get your questions answered during the lecture, write them down in your notes so you can remember to ask later. Even if you don't have unanswered questions, you should still review your notes after the lecture to make sure you haven't missed anything important.

To get the most out of your classes, follow our college note-taking tips above and take advantage of expert subject help with our online tutoring service! Schedule an online tutoring session with 24HourAnswers today. 

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