Studying is probably one of the most difficult tasks that a college student has to do. Between class, coursework and other responsibilities, it’s difficult to find time to study. However, studying is obviously necessary for you to succeed in your classes.
Like most people, I use my notes to study and review before taking a quiz or exam. While studying itself isn’t necessarily a challenging task, knowing how to take notes in class so your study sessions are successful could become difficult.
Prior to attending college, you probably rarely took notes in class. Without having knowledge beforehand, you’ll probably have to learn how to take notes throughout the course of your first semester. Like anything, though, there isn’t a clear-cut explanation of how to take notes. Your notes will look slightly different than your classmate’s notes. Still, there are a few fundamental ways to take notes which could help you have successful study sessions in the future.
Don’t try to write everything the professor says
This was probably the most difficult challenge for me, at least in terms of taking notes. Although you might try, it’s virtually impossible to write down everything your professor says. Believe it or not, listening to your professor is probably even more important than taking notes.
Instead of trying to write down everything your professor says, listen for the key points. Personally, I like to write my notes in an outline format. For instance, if you’re learning about the Civil War, you might want to make that your focus point, while every point underneath could be the details surrounding the war.
By condensing your notes, your study sessions will go a lot more smoothly. You will avoid separating what’s important and what’s not because it will already be written down for you.
Bring highlighters to class. Instructors will frequently make comments like, “This is an important concept.” Or, “Make sure you understand this.” These are direct clues that this will more than likely be on an exam. Highlighting these notes will help remind you later that this is definitely something you need to know.
If you’re still worried that you might have missed something, perhaps you could record your lectures. Having the lectures to review before taking an exam could be extremely valuable, especially to those who still aren’t sure of how to take notes.
Do the reading/prepare beforehand
You probably could’ve gotten away without doing your readings in high school, but you’re going to have a difficult time doing that in college.
In class, your professor will likely go over the readings or other material that was assigned before class. Some students tend to skip the reading, thinking they will get all of the material in class anyway. If you do the reading or prepare for the lecture beforehand, the lecture will end up becoming a review of the material, which will help you memorize the key points.