Easily the most challenging aspect of any class is taking notes. Not because it doesn’t seem important, but because there are so many things to take in and make sense of that you don’t know what to prioritize. You want to get everything down, but you don’t know where to start or what to write down. So here are some useful ways that you can make the most of your notes and stay focused in class.
Make use of your highlighter
Using a highlighter is a great way to focus on the most critical information in class and create a clear visual map of your notes. Instead of highlighting every word or sentence, you hear in class, focus on the crucial information like definitions of terms, key ideas, and main points. When you highlight the key concepts within a sentence or paragraph, you allow yourself to focus only on what is most important. As a result, you will spend less time in-class writing and more time thinking about the key topics.
Highlighting is also helpful when writing your notes, as you can use it to make sure that you don’t forget any crucial points. However, be careful not to overdo it. If you highlight everything, and nothing is highlighted except your own notes, it won’t be easy to follow what is being said in class. Instead, you should focus on finding the main ideas and concepts and save the highlighting for these.
Take enough notes
Everyone has experienced that moment when you have to dig through your notebook from a previous class looking for what you wrote down about the midterm project. You spend more time trying to find the information you already have than focusing on what is being said in class. It is essential to take enough notes in each class so that you can find your information later. The notes should be enough for you to reconstruct the critical ideas later and capture the main concepts.
Don’t just take notes on what the teacher says
You also need to take notes when you’re reading your textbooks. Often, students will only take notes when the teacher is speaking. However, there’s a lot of helpful information in textbooks that aren’t brought up in class. Instead, the textbook may just provide background information on a specific topic and provide you with further reading.
Every time you read a chapter, take notes on what is most important. What does the chapter outline, and what does it leave out? What ideas or terms are crucial to understanding the topic? As you read your textbooks, take notes so that your notes about them aren’t just limited to what was covered in class.
Use your class time wisely
Take advantage of your time in class to take notes while you’re there. Instead of looking down the entire time, focus on taking notes and listening to what is being said. Don’t just write every word down; instead, list the necessary information and concepts. However, it is essential not to forget to pay attention to what the teacher is saying.
Many students try to take notes while speaking but don’t listen and miss out on useful information. If you focus on writing down only the key information, you can still pay attention to what is being said. You won’t miss any valuable details, nor will you feel overwhelmed by having to try and keep up with both listening and writing.
The purpose of class notes is to help you prepare for future tests. If you don’t pay attention in class and take notes as the teacher is talking, you will be unprepared for the test, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid.