Every student strives for good grades in college, but we all tend to forget about a simple skill that we should all master in order to be more successful; note taking! Being able to take good notes is an amazing skill to master, not just for college, but for the future. These are five things that I have personally done to improve my not taking and study habits immensely. While some of these tips may seem like common sense, we still seem to forget to do them. But trust me, enforcing these 5 habits will benefit you and you'll be thanking yourself later.
1. Keep a Notebook for Every Class
I know this may seem a little extra, but trust me it's worth it. Depending on what classes you have, you can either get a 1-subject, 3-subject, or 5-subject notebook. Personally, I like to assign each class its own colored notebook. But, you could also easily label the front of it if you don't have a wide variety of colors to choose from.
2. Re-Write your Notes
This may seem a bit tedious, but you will be thanking yourself when an exam comes around. Whenever we go to lecture we tend to mindlessly copy the notes from the board, while completely ignoring what the professor is saying. If you attend lectures that allow you to print notes before class, do it! Then, you can only focus on the important information and use that later when you're re-writing and summarizing your notes. If you don't have the ability to print notes and only rely on what the professor writes on the board, continue to only focus on the important information. It's okay if your notes are sloppy at first, you'll fix them later. Not only will your studying be easier with neater notes, but re-writing is a great way to absorb all of the information you have learned and help you understand the lecture better.
3. Color Coding
Color coding my notes is a very important way to help me understand and organize my thoughts on what a lecture is about. I like to assign different portions of my notes their own color. For example; headings are orange, definitions are green, and the important key points are yellow. My professor enforced the use of color coding because it has the ability to help you better understand concepts. Not only will this method allow you to reference your notes with more ease, but they also make them slightly more aesthetically pleasing.
4. Title and Date Each Lecture Section
This small detail can make such a big difference in your note organization. If you ever need to refer back to a particular day's notes it will be much easier. I know that when I used to not date my notes, it would be more difficult to keep track of what I needed to review for an upcoming exam or quiz. This tip can especially come in handy if you ever miss a day of lecture and it helps you keep track of what you need to add.
5. Review Notes Before Bed and Before Class
I'm telling you if you review your notes for at least 10 minutes every night before bed and every day before class, your understanding of the topic will improve. Whenever I re-read my notes, I write down any questions I have in the margins of my notebook so that I can refer to them later during class or my professor's office hours. And if any of your lectures are notorious for having pop quizzes, you'll be more grateful that you've done this.