Note-taking tips

If taking notes for you doesn’t help you, don’t take notes. There are high-achieving students that do not take notes.

The primary goal of taking notes is to condense the material so that you don’t have to refer back to the lectures or the textbook when you’re studying for the exam. You want your notes to only contain what you need to know and not other fluff so that you can study efficiently.

USE DIAGRAMS AND DRAWINGS

  • Super helpful for visual learners
  • the diagrams only need to make sense to you .
  • Diagrams are really helpful to study physiology. Draw out neurons, xylem and phloem
  • Use colour. ions flowing in can be red, ions flowing out can be green.

TAKE NOTES IN COLOUR

  •  It helps you remember because you’re engaging your visual memory better when you use different colours rather than the same boring old colour. The key is keep your mind from getting bored.
    This year I’m using: 48 Coloured Pens. I seriously bought 48 pens. If you scroll back to my posts during final exams, I wrote about using 6 or so pens within two days. I wrote a LOT.

MAKE CHARTS

  • I haven’t used this tip yet but I was told that charts are great for studying pharmacology.

TAKE NOTES ON THE POWERPOINT if possible

  • If powerpoints are provided by the professor
  • This will save you a lot of time during the lecture!
  • Unfortunately, a lot of my first year classes did not provide powerpoint but my second year level courses did. On the plus side first years, you get to use your favourite Moleskine or other cute notebook. Yay!

CATCH AS MANY EMPHASIZED DETAILS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN

  • Exam questions often test little details so listen carefully for your professor to hint at what little detail is important.

HIGHLIGHT/CIRCLE/DRAW STARS NEXT TO IMPORTANT CONCEPTS

  • That said, for your long-term learning, it’s more important to know what big picture concepts are important. Indicate what these are for yourself because it’s easy to forget when you have pages and pages of notes that you took 3 months ago.

TAKE NOTES BY HAND

  • Writing by hand helps you remember better than typing. There is research to back this up!
  • It’s easier to draw diagrams and sketch molecules and formulas.

USE A NOTEBOOK, NOT LINED PAPER

  • Lined paper will get crumpled and lost. You will cry if you lose that page of notes that your professor said that you absolutely must remember for your midterm.
  • A notebook also keeps everything in order so you don’t have to sort through a pile asking yourself if where is that sheet that comes after the sheet that says “see next sheet”.
  • Notebooks that I’ll be using this semester: Extra Large Moleskines. These are more expensive than the 25 cent notebooks that I used last year but I believe that paying for high quality is important. I also know that having a nicer notebook will motivate me to take neater notes

KEEP YOUR HANDOUTS ORGANIZED IN A FOLDER
I used a two pocket Folder.

  • One side containing the class syllabus, the class schedule, old assignments that got handed back are tucked in the back of this side
  • The other side contains the current class’s assigned readings or assignment, plus new handouts that I got.

COLOUR CODE YOUR NOTEBOOKS AND FOLDERS.

The colour system I used was:

  • Yellow notebook and folder for Physics
  • Red notebook and folder for Chemistry
  • Blue notebook and folder for Biology
  • Purple folder for English. A notebook wasn’t too necessary because I liked to write on the printed out poem.
  • Argyle print notebook and Panda folder for Math. Gotta be totally random for one of the classes.

THE REWRITING TECHNIQUE

  • I did this for Microbiology but not for other classes.
  • Rewrite the most important concepts
  • Rewrite this again and again until you have it memorized
  • Close to the exam, go back to the powerpoints and fill in details
  • Credits to Andrea for introducing me to this method of rewriting notes

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