Note-taking is by far the most difficult part of reading for college students. Note-taking is tedious, boring, doubles the time it takes for you to read a chapter, and you generally cannot understand them later. Below are some ways to efficiently and effectively take notes. These strategies will make studying your notes easier and will keep your notes organized.
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The first note-taking strategy is to skim. I mean two things when I say skim. The first is that I recommend an extremely brief skim of each section before you read them. During this initial skim, take mental note of any bolded or italicized words. These are the words you are going to want to pay particular attention to when you’re reading.
Second, by skim I mean skim instead of in-depth reading. The more important bits of the reading is the beginning and end—the begging and end of the chapter, the sections, and each paragraph. That doesn’t mean ignore the middle bits. Just don’t spend all your time focusing on the middle of each paragraph.
How is skimming a note-taking strategy you might ask? Well when you are spending less time reading every single word, you have more concise, accurate, and organized notes!
Headings are very important when it comes to note-taking. Headings not only give you a brief idea of what you are about to read, but they can be used to organize your notes based on content. You might try organizing your notes based on headings or a general idea the text focuses on in the section following each heading.
An outline is an easy way to organize your notes as you go. This is particularly easy because most textbooks are organized with headings that give you an outline before you’ve even started taking notes. If you prefer not to outline your notes based on the headings. Create a brief outline when doing the initial scan that makes sense to you.
I cannot stress enough the importance of color coordination in note-taking. Even just alternating colors when you start a new idea can help you to navigate your notes quicker when your studying. Planning Pineapple mentions choosing 5 colors to organize your notes. A different color for headings, subheadings, vocabulary, main notes, and big points. This is an amazing idea that I utilize in my own note-taking.
If you don’t like worrying about colors while you are taking notes, trying highlighting after the fact instead!
Splitting your Page
Another highly recommended way to take your notes is to split the page. Draw a line or fold your page about two inches from the left side. That left column should include cues and questions. The right column is where your notes will go. Then, about two inches from the bottom of the page (or even just at the end of each section), summarize your notes. This strategy is the best when it comes to taking in-class notes, but it can also be used effectively when you are reading your text!
Now that you have 5 more note-taking tools under your belt, you are sure to succeed! Which strategy is your favorite? Let us know if the comments!