Whether you choose to go old school with pen and paper, or prefer to have everything digital, the most important thing for taking effective notes is staying organized. That means attending classes, dating your notes, and keeping your notes and course info in one place so it can be easily retrieved. For computer note-takers, software like Evernote is a great way to keep all your course material in one place – your syllabus, readings, and notes can all be stored and accessed from any computer through your browser. Plus, you can tag your notes with keywords and retrieve all your notes with that tag in a click when you’re studying for a test!
It’s easy to get distracted in class, whether you’re sitting next to someone chatty or you’ve fallen into a black hole of GIFs. Minimizing distractions is key to getting all that important information down, so turn off your WiFi if you have to, put away your phone, or sit towards the front to stay focused.
Instead of just copying down what you professor says in lecture, try adding keywords and questions to your notes to help you see important themes in your lectures, brainstorm for essay topics, and create practice exam questions. If you’re taking notes by hand, the Cornell note-taking method uses different columns in your notebook to include your notes, questions, and a summary of the lecture to complete after class. There are lots of resources for Cornell note-taking paper that you can download and print to make it even easier.
Reviewing your notes this way is great for checking your understanding and researching any questions you have before you forget all about it. Even though re-reading your notes after a two-hour lecture might be the last thing you want to do, it’s important to make sure your notes are complete while everything is fresh in your mind – a break between classes is the perfect opportunity to do revise!
Ultimately, the best tip is to make a system that works for you and stick to it. It can be tough to stay disciplined but some extra effort throughout the year will have a major payoff when it comes to exams and assignments.
Content courtesy of: http://www.schoolfinder.com/news/article.asp?ID=2701&SectionID=7
Up-date Oct. 04/17:
For an updated comparison of note taking apps, see this article.