Effective Note Taking Techniques for Students

Last Updated on May 23, 2023

Best-Note-Taking-Methods-to-Improve-StudyingFrom the classroom to the boardroom, note-taking is one of the most essential skills we need in life. Humans forget things easily, which is why writing things down can greatly help us organize our lives. There are numerous ways you can take down notes, as styles can differ from one person to another. In fact, with all the technology at our disposal, the range today varies from the traditional methods of pencil and paper to taking down digital notes such as using laptops. While traditional methods are tried and tested, here are some effective note taking methods to help you take advantage of technology for note-taking.

The Cornell System:

This technique was developed by Professor Pauk, and is one of the most popular ways of organizing notes.
The Cornell System - Note Taking Method

  1. Cue Column: The 2.5 inches of the screen are called the “recall” column, and this is where you can write after you have taken notes in class. It is suggested to write questions in the recall column in order to test yourself and thoroughly understand the material.
  2. Summaries Area: The lower 2 inches of the screen where you can use your own words to summarize your notes.
  3. Note Taking Area: The 6-inch remainder of the screen where write the basic notes.

Cornell Guided Notes Recap: Research has shown that this method helps students perform significantly better on their exams. The Guided Notes method involves interaction between students and teachers, where teachers create fill in the blank outlines that contain key concepts while students take down notes.

Other effective note taking systems include:

  • Outline system: this requires the creation of an organized pattern which you can use to review later on. The pattern is consisted of a primary topic, and a secondary topic which contains detailed bullet point paragraphs, which is further broken down into another secondary topic.
  • Flow-Based System: Instead of using structured paragraphs, the flow-based system encourages the generation of ideas and connecting them to relevant thoughts while taking down notes in class.

There is no uniform method of note-taking that will work for everyone, the various methods are there for you to try and find which one works best for you.

Physically taking down notes has been proven to activate areas of the brain that are used for working memory, language, and thinking. The brain contains cognitive areas that we use to process information, and when we take down notes during lectures, we make use of the occipital and temporal lobe the most. The occipital lobe is used for visual perception, color recognition, and spatial recognition. On the other hand, the temporal lobe is used in auditory perception, speech, memory, visual perception, and emotions.

If we don’t take notes during a lecture, the brain won’t know how to decipher which information is important or not. However with note-taking, you are enabling your brain to filter and organize all relevant information and retain the memory more easily.

Traditional note-taking vs. Digital note-taking

Using a pen and paper can help you remember better although typing them allows you to have a larger quantity of notes in a shorter period of time.

You can use various digital tools to take down notes, such as recording pens, videos, laptops, and various internet software. Find a tool that works best for you, as each of them has its own advantages.

Photo Courtesy of BIGSTOCK

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