Studies on memory have shown that humans forget about half of most newly learned information within twenty minutes – and almost two thirds of that information by the next day!
…That is, if we don’t do any sort of review.
By going back over information, you are moving it from your short-term memory to your long-term memory, where you can count on it to stick around for longer than twenty minutes. So if you’re a student, it’s super important to have good notes!
You may understand why you should take notes, but not necessarily how to take notes.
Have no fear, we’ve got you covered! To get you started down the path to note-taking stardom, we’re proud to present our brand new resource: the “How to Take Notes” video.
Watch the embedded video below, or scroll down for a full video transcript. 🙂
What Will I See in the “How to Take Notes” Video?
In this free video, you’ll receive a brief introduction, followed by eight must-have tips for becoming a note-taking expert:
1. Record the information in a way that fits your learning style.
2. It’s okay to be sloppy! You’re the only one who needs to understand your notes.
3. Pay attention to what your teacher is emphasizing.
4. Use an outline.
5. Consider buying some fun note-taking materials.
6. Keep your notes separated by class.
7. Don’t forget to study your notes.
8. Go back an rewrite (de-slop-ify) your original notes.
No one ever really teaches you how to take notes, and yet it’s a HUGE part of learning and getting good grades. Seriously, good notes are a game changer!
“How to Take Notes” Video Transcript:
Today we are going to be talking about how to take good notes.
Now, if you’d like to continue learning and getting even more videos about topics like this, make sure you like this video and subscribe to this channel.
All right, let’s get down to business.
Tip number 1 is to record the information somehow.
Now, a lot of people kind of take the approach that, oh, they’re gonna remember every single thing they hear in class.
Don’t worry, my memory is amazing. I don’t need to take notes, I’m just gonna sit here and absorb.
Unfortunately, that at some point is gonna come back to bite you. And you don’t want that at some point to be during your test.
So, please find a way that works for you to record the information that you hear in your class.
Now, for me and my learning style, I find that writing things down really helps.
I can either write by hand or if there’s a really high volume of information coming at me sometimes I find that typing is better because I get more stream of consciousness words down on the page.
For other people and other learning styles this might look different.
So if you are an auditory learner for example, see if you can record at the lecture so that you can listen back to it when you’re studying.
Or if you are a visual learner, sketch notes might be better for you.
So those are notes that include doodles and pictures to help illustrate the concepts along with maybe some words for context.
Whatever it is, figure out what’s going to work best for you, and get the information down.
Tip number 2 is that you can be really sloppy in your notes, and that that is 100% okay.
You are the person that needs to read and understand them.
So don’t worry about them being 100% Pinterest perfect, you’re just trying to get that information down.
To aid in this you can use abbreviations like, for example, George Washington can become GW.
Or you can use symbols like if you’re trying to say increase a whole bunch of times in your notes, you can just throw an up arrow in.
Whatever it is that’s gonna help you put down that information more quickly is what you should use.
And if you tend to use a lot of abbreviations, your whole page is just GWs, and RSAs, and KM’s, then you’re probably gonna wanna create a little key for yourself.
So that when you go back to look at your notes, you’ll actually remember what those mean.
Basically, you’re going for speed here.
You wanna get the information down as fast as the teacher is talking about it so that you’re not writing down stuff that they said at the very beginning of class, and now it’s the middle of class and you’re lost.
And now for a word from our sponsor.
This video is brought to you today by Magoosh.
Magoosh is online test prep that makes studying for standardized tests accessible, effective and enjoyable.
They teach a lot of different tests, including the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, TOEFL, IELTS, Praxis.
Probably ones that I am even forgetting right now.
So the next time you have a standardized test to study for, check out Magoosh.
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[SOUND] Tip number 3 is to pay attention to what your teacher is emphasizing.
Because, believe it or not, your teacher or professor wants you to get a really good grade.
They are trying to point you to the information that is most important.
So, how does a teacher emphasize something?
They might say it a few times. They might underline it.
They might talk about it in a specifically, emotional way.
Whatever this is, keep an ear out for it in class and make sure that you’re starring that information in your notes.
If you’re concerned that you don’t know what the most important information is, even by the end of the lecture, you can approach your teacher or professor and ask them.
Tell them what you identified as the biggest key take-aways of what they said in the class that day.
And see if that matches up with what they think that the key take-aways are.
Your teacher is there to help you and honestly they’re probably going to be really impressed that you took the time to figure out what the most important thing they were trying to say was.
Tip number 4 is to use an outline when you take your notes.
So that’s a header with subpoints or maybe sub-subpoints.
And that’s as opposed to just doing just a giant text block.
Taking the time to make an outline when you’re taking your notes is gonna help you a lot in the review process.
So that you understand what information was connected to what other information etc, etc.
As opposed to just approaching this big block of text and not being certain about what you meant, or what’s connected.
Take the time to do an outline the first time.
Tip number 5 is to go shopping, and obviously, this is the most important and serious tip of all of them.
Not really, but I think that honestly, if you have a little bit of spare change, going shopping and buying some materials that you really enjoy.
Some pens, notebooks that you find really cool, can be very satisfying, very motivating, and might get your butt in the seat faster to study.
If you think that that will be the case for you, then I am giving you permission to go hog wild at Staples and buy the school supplies of your dreams.
This has been tip 5.
Tip number 6 is to keep your notes separated by class.
Okay, so you just went to Staples because of tip 5.
Make sure that you’re buying individual notebooks or one of those big notebooks with the dividers between the sections so that all of your notes are not in one place.
You don’t want your bio notes with your Shakespeare notes, with your art class notes.
Because then when you go back to study them, it’s gonna be a nightmare trying to find what you need to study.
Tip number 7 is to study your notes.
Honestly, a lot of times people forget about this.
You write your notes the first time in class and that cements the information.
But people forget to take their notes back out when it’s study time and use them to study for their midterm or their final.
Your notes are really, really gonna help you because they’re gonna condense what you learned in class as opposed to just what’s in the textbook.
So make sure you study your notes.
Tip number 8 is that when you study your notes, this is the time to get nice and aesthetic with them.
So you’re pulling out your notes that earlier I told you to make as messy as possible so you could write them as fast as possible.
And now’s the time to get kind of Pinterest-perfect and Instagram-worthy with them.
So you can go through and use your beautiful series of highlighters to highlight the most important information.
You can rewrite information in different colors using a different color for each key piece of information.
For example, different colors for dates, different colors for names, for formulas.
All of this will make it a lot easier for you to rescan through your notes and find the most important information that you’re studying at the time.
And it can also help you remember the information.
Sometimes when I’m trying to think back to something I can remember oh yeah, I highlighted that in purple on the second page of my notes.
You can also rewrite your notes.
You can try putting them in a different format like a mind map.
Reorganizing and rewriting your notes can really help you remember them better.
And if you want some inspiration, you type mind map into Pinterest.
Or study blur into Google image search and find really, really beautiful notes that other people have taken.
All right, those are all the tips I have for you today.
Please like this video if it helped you.
I wanna know because I wanna know what kinds of videos I should make in the future.
Also if you have any other good note-taking tips please leave them in the comments below so that the other viewers can also get the benefit of your knowledge.
All right, happy note-taking and I’ll see you in the next video.
Want more Study Tips?
Ready for more? Take a look at some of Magoosh’s other free study tips and resources on our High School Blog!
Happy studying! 🙂
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About Molly Kiefer
Molly completed her undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She has been tutoring the SAT, GRE, and LSAT since 2014, and loves supporting her students as they work towards their academic goals. When she’s not tutoring or blogging, Molly takes long walks, makes art, and studies ethics. Molly currently lives in Northern California with her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.
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