You’ve Been Taking Notes Wrong This Whole Time!

taking notes

The average college student takes 15 credits worth of classes every semester. That’s 15 hours of listening to lectures and taking notes, on top of 2-3 hours of recommended studying PER credit hour. When you’re getting your degree, there’s a lot of information to take in at once.

Most students don’t realize that their notes during lectures don’t help them study later in the week. Without proper notes, it’s hard to recall everything that professors explain during class. 

Have you been taking notes wrong this whole time? Try out these note-taking methods that are sure to help you retain more in the classroom and do better on exams. 

Outline Notes

This is actually the most common method of note-taking. Outline notes take the most vital information from a lecture or presentation and condense it into shorter phrases. Usually, you just list a variety of subtopics with bullet points of the information listed underneath.

These notes shouldn’t be an in-depth explanation of the material. Instead, outline notes function as a point of reference to spark a memory of what your professor discussed in class. Simplifying the wording also helps you better grasp what you’re learning! 

Cornell Notes

Cornell notes provide a simple way to organize the content quickly you learn about in class. Draw a vertical line that splits up that divides up the paper into two sections. At the bottom, draw a horizontal line that leaves you about 3-4 lines of space to write.

This will give you three sections to take notes. The first section on the left is for questions you have during the lecture to start answering them during your independent studying. The second section is for traditional outline notes- all the things your professor writes down. You can use the last few lines you left open on the bottom to summarize what’s on the page.

Cornell notes take a little bit of getting used to, but it can make a big difference in your note-taking engagement once you do. It’s easy just to copy down whatever you hear and forget what you learned completely by the time exams come around. With this note-taking system, you’re challenging yourself to ask hard questions and constantly summarize the material so that it sticks in your brain.

Visual Notes

Not everyone learns by scribbling down a bunch of random words on a piece of paper. In fact, surveys suggest that about 65% of the general population are visual learners. If you’re having trouble understanding your notes, try incorporating different colors and symbols to make them more visually interesting.

Map out your lecture notes in thought bubbles or sketch a doodle of an important concept. These are the things that will stick in your head when you’re being tested on that information later. If you’re not super artistic, you could just use highlighters or colored pens to make the main ideas stand out more.

Still struggling? Check out this article on Effective Tips For Exam Time!