When you are in a lecture, do you face challenges on what to put down? Have you ever wished yourself you could take effective notes? Sometimes Note, taking can be very challenging whether you have a lecture online or in the lecture hall. But by following various strategic practices, everybody can take neat, clear, effective notes.

Note-taking is another form of unsaid study technique. Applying the right style in your subject will help you maneuver your campus courses and steer you toward your future career.

When note-taking is done correctly, it can boost your grades, make you feel more confident in your studies, and be ahead of your peers at the university.

The following are the guidelines for taking clear, effective notes in class.

In this guide, we will talk about the benefit of note-taking, the qualities of good notes, and guidelines for becoming effective in note-taking.

Importance of note-taking

Benefit while in class

Note-taking in the lecture hall is a crucial part of college for academic success.

Taking notes actively in class can increase your focus and make you understand the main points. You might be asked to watch an instructional video in most classes before joining the class discussion.

Also, good note-taking will enhance active listening, material comprehension, and remembrance. Note taking on asynchronous and synchronous information enhances comprehension of what you see and hear.

Benefit after class

Good note-taking is important after class as it enables you to study and review class materials to understand them better and effectively prepare for the exams.

Neat and efficient notes can save your energy and time and reduce confusion due to disorganized, wordy, insufficient, and overwhelming notes.

Taking notes from watching a video reduces the hassle of rewinding, pausing, and re-watching huge lecture videos.

Effective notes can enhance you to create an effective outline for your study.

How to take effective notes in class

Since there will be many things taking place in class, you might not be able to put down every main point clearly, which is okay.

Reviewing your notes after class, mostly after a day or two, and rectifying the mistakes while filling in any missing information is also part of good note-taking. This can assist you in clearly organizing your mind and distinguishing the main points.

Also, it is crucial to have good source material.

Prepare adequately before you get into class.

Before going to the class, ensure at least you have read the assigned reading from your lecturer. Even when your professor gives no assigned reading, try to familiarize yourself with the topic to be aware of what to expect.

According to research conducted by Wilkin &Spies (2004), it was found that law students who read legal cases before attending classes portrayed a greater understanding of the materials than learners who had not prepared for the class.

Before you attend the class, ensure you have packed everything you will need in class.

Ensure you have a notebook, several pens and pencils, sticky notes, highlighters, textbooks, and even your laptop.

Carry your bottle of water. It is advisable not to carry coffee or other caffeine in class. Try to drink a lot of water and consume caffeine moderately.

The fact is that coffee doesn’t dehydrate you. But coffee taken in moderation can enhance your focus and help you to stay alert. While too much coffee interrupts your sleep, impairs your mental function, and consequently reduces your attention in class.

Before going to the class, eat your snack. It is advisable to take a complete snack that has carbs, protein, and fat than eating a snack that has a lot of sugar and salts.

Peanut butter and apples, cheese, and crackers are better options. These snacks will make you stay full longer, thus reducing distractions due to hunger in the middle of the lecture.

Note-taking techniques

The following are some of the popular note-taking techniques. Everybody learns differently, and some subjects need different note-taking styles.

1. Structured: the outline

This is a note-taking technique that comes naturally to many people. It is for those that like simplicity.

When making outline notes, begin by highlighting the main points covered in class. Then below those points, write down some in-depth sub-points that the lecturer highlights.

If you outline notes by hand, ensure you have left enough space on every point so all the sub-points can fit. If you are using a computer, organize them well in your word document.

Your notes should be for testing how much you know instead of rereading them.

2. For review: The Cornell Method

The Cornell method is one of the best note-taking techniques if you want to get the most while reviewing time.

This technique separates your page into three parts: notes, cues, and summary.

The note section is for the note you take while in class. Some people prefer using the outline method in this section.

The cues section can be written during or after the class. You write the potential test question for the main points in this part. These cues help you to remember the important ideas.

The summary section can be written after the class or when revising your notes. This part is for summarizing the whole lecture.

Your cues and summary should be very clear and simple. However, you can add diagrams and charts if you need to.

3. In-Depth: the mind map

Some subjects such as history, chemistry, and philosophy need mind map note-taking techniques. This note-taking style helps you tackle how various topics are related or analyze a particular idea.

For example, if you are in a class on the fall of the Roman empire, you will need to start with the concept in the middle and write down all the factors that led to the fall of the roman empire as the lecturer outline them. This could be debts, attacks from barbarian tribes, irresponsible emperors, etc.

Later when reviewing, you can add some sub-ideas such as supporting facts.

4. Holistic: Flow Notes

This technique is for students who don’t like rules.

This note-taking method is for learners who want to maximize their active learning when in class and reduce their reviewing time.

The importance of flow notes is treating yourself as a learner you are, rather than a lecture-transcribing machine.

For the flow notes, you need to write down topics, then draw arrows, diagrams, and graphs. Engage yourself with the content as much as possible and try to learn as you write actively.

NB: while this note-taking method is nice for learning in class, revising notes later can be challenging.

But if you are a visual and auditory learner, this can be the best note-taking method.

5. Easy: Writing on slides.

This note-taking method is for lazy students. Lol! There is nothing wrong with that.

If your lecturer is generous and kind enough, he can provide you with the slides he uses in class for you to go and print out.

As the lecturer has already done the work for you, you need to take notes and expand the concept in the slides.

This is like having a step-by-step lecture that you don’t have to do a thing to get it.

6. Visual: Bullet Journaling

This is another note-taking method mostly for visual learners.

When you use the bullet journal note-taking style, you turn an empty page into an attractive representation of your thought process.

In your bullet journal, you can do anything you want. You can decide on one page your mind map. On another one, you draw charts and diagrams.

Maximize your notes

When the class is over, and now you have your notes, there are various ways you can maximize them and get the most out of them.

  • Review and review your notes over and over again. Ensure you review your notes within the first 24 hours. This will enhance the main points to stick to the brain longer without falling out.
  • Review a section of your notes every day. Don’t ever try to review your notes on the last day of the exam. Ensure you review for a long time, as this will help the concept stick in your mind and improve recall.
  • As you are doing your assignment, ensure you have your notes. If you realize that there are repetitions, most likely those questions are in the test and pay attention to them.

Lastly, note-taking is a skill, and everybody needs different skill, as what work for me may not work for everybody else.

Experiment with all note-taking techniques and find out what works for you best.