Do’s & Don'ts of Note-Taking

Have you ever envied classmates who can take the best study notes from their textbooks? Some of your classmates might have the magical power to condense critical information from books and prepare efficient study notes that helps them get good grades. Wonder what they are doing correctly and what you're doing wrong? Well, taking notes from a textbook is an art that you can get better with practice. In this post, we share the most effective techniques to help you become an efficient note-taker.

Why Is Note-Taking Important?

Efficient note-taking makes it easier to understand and revise topics, making your study sessions more effective in the long run. Ideally, your classroom and textbook notes help supplement what you learn in class. The biggest advantage of efficient note-taking is that it makes revising for your finals and other tests easy.

How To Take Effective Notes From Your Textbooks?

1. Skim Each Chapter

Before you deep dive into the topic, do a quick skimming of the chapter to identify the heading, sub-headings and critical phrases. This helps you get an idea of how all the information fits together. This also gives you a high-level view of what you can expect in the chapter.

2. Create An Outline

Use the headings, subheadings and critical phrases to create a skeleton (or rough outline) of the chapter. Alternatively, you can create a mind map or Cornell notes instead of an outline. Make sure you leave extra space in the outline to fill in later.

3. Read Each Section Separately

Reading the entire chapter before taking notes is a waste of time. By the time you finish reading the whole chapter, you will likely forget what you read in the early paragraphs. So, separate each chapter into different sections that align with your outline. Read each section separately and take notes.

4. Write Notes From Memory

After reading each section, close your textbook and write notes from your memory. This is a great activity to improve your memory and helps you remember critical information in your tests. Once you have written the notes from memory, open the book and check your notes. See if you have missed any information. This strategy is known as retrieval practice and is an effective learning strategy, helping you learn as you take notes.

5. Highlight Key Information

Highlight Key Information

If you come across any new terms or phrases or other information like places, names and dates – highlight them in bold or italics. This makes it easy to note this critical information during exam preparation.

6. Don’t Copy From The Textbook

Instead, paraphrase it in your own words. This is the hardest part of note-taking and you might struggle with it initially. However, once you get into the groove, it gets easier over time. Smart Study Tip: Psst, if you don’t understand a sentence, reading it aloud a few times can help you comprehend it.

7. Annotate Your Notes

Annotating is the practice of including extra information. Write review questions, connections with other topics and any questions that you might have in the margins. You can add doodles, flowcharts or other diagrams to help you better understand the information.

8. Complete With A Summary

Once you have finished note-taking for a chapter, include a summary of two to four sentences discussing the big ideas in the chapter. Try these techniques, and you'll soon become an expert note-taker.

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