10 Ways to Make Study Notes – A student’s notes are the most important tool in their study arsenal and the quality of your notes will dictate how much you learn from class and help you understand content on tests, quizzes, and exams. This makes it incredibly important to make good study notes but also to make them efficiently so that you have enough time left over to review them and create more notes as necessary. Here are ten strategies that will help you create great study notes.
10 Ways to Make Study Notes Starting From Below
1) Use highlighters
Highlighting key points and important information in your textbook is a great way to commit it to memory. You’ll also be able to pick up where you left off without having to look at page numbers or search for page headers, which is especially helpful when reading long texts like novels or philosophy papers. Highlighters aren’t just for marking text, though; they can help you revise faster, too. After highlighting key lines in your reading material, pull out a highlighter of a different color and go through each section again—this time highlighting only new information (and deleting what you highlighted before). Each revision session should be about half as long as your initial read-through and will be even more effective than taking notes from scratch.
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2) Split your notes in sections
Organize your notes by topic and then again by each major section. This will allow you to look at a specific area of your notes for that day, such as verbs or nouns. Outline your notes: Taking your notes in outline form can give you a great idea of how much time you spend on each topic. It will also help you solidify key terms, facts and other important areas within your study materials. Take photos of charts and diagrams: Taking photos of charts, diagrams and other visual aids from class can save you from rewriting them yourself later on. This is also helpful when looking over prior classes because it allows you to compare, contrast and make sense of what might have otherwise been a confusing lecture or PowerPoint presentation.
3) Turn it into a quiz
Take a lesson, complete your notes then go back and review what you’ve learned. You can ask yourself simple questions that require yes or no answers (for example: Did Jefferson write both of these letters?). Write down each word and its definition, then go through it again later for a quiz. Test yourself with true/false statements—if you get one wrong, rewrite it correctly. Get creative! Pull out a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, label one side true and one side false. Then fill in your note-taking template on each side of your paper by marking your notes as true or false depending on what they say. Once you finish going through all of them, check to see how many are correct.
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4) Take quizzes regularly
Taking a multiple-choice quiz is one of many great ways to review course material. And if you’re taking an exam soon, then you should certainly continue studying—but you can use quizzes as a tool in your overall strategy. Why? Because quizzes show you how well you understand concepts and topics, and help get them stuck in your memory. It can also be more fun to take a quiz than read something boring or confusing again! To make study notes while taking practice exams (it’s always good to do both!), write down key words and phrases from each question, along with whatever your first instinct is for each answer choice.
5) Go through exam paper examples
Exams give you an opportunity to practice answering exam questions on paper and in your head, which helps sharpen your approach before exam day. The best way to work with exams is by reading through questions and answers on past papers. For example, if you’re preparing for a finance or accounting exam, look at examples of past students’ answers (with their permission) from multiple years’ exams—not just from your own institution. This will give you a broader view of common mistakes or tactics and can inspire new ideas for organizing information in your own notes. You can also get ideas from books about how successful students approached past exams, such as The Official Guide for GMAT Review .
6) Skim through chapters before you start reading
Don’t just start reading and expect it all to sink in. You won’t retain as much information that way, because your brain is still in new information mode. Instead, skim over a chapter before you start diving into it and familiarize yourself with its structure. You might discover there are no case studies or examples to memorize, for example, which means you can focus on other important topics.
7) Always have your textbook with you
The best way to stay on top of your workload is to never let it go. A student without a textbook is an aimless student and there’s nothing worse than forgetting what you studied. It’s tempting to toss your book in a corner when studying, but fight that urge: The book will be right where you left it later when you need it most. Also, textbooks are heavy; having one in your backpack is just asking for trouble if you get stuck running late for class.
8) Introduce colours in your note taking
Colour coding is a tried and tested method of taking notes. It may seem unnecessary, but colour coding your notes can help you stay organised and track your progress in ways you never imagined. Colour coded study notes mean that every topic has its own colour, and therefore its own location in your book or on your desk. For example, you could colour code all of your lectures’ topics by subject or difficulty level. The key is to organise them visually so it’s easy for you to skim-read during revision; using colours helps with both organisation and speed! If colour isn’t really up your alley, consider using symbols instead—just be sure it doesn’t make more work for you down the line!
9) Use codes and symbols
Many students use a mixture of keywords and acronyms to make their notes as concise as possible. For example, if you were writing about parts of speech, you might put: N: noun (person, place or thing) V: verb (action word) Adj: adjective (describes noun) And in your notes, you would write out noun, verb and adjective. If a lot of your notes are like that, consider using shorthand symbols for each part of speech instead. For example, underline a symbol such as #N# to refer to nouns.
10) And most importantly, DO NOT COPY YOUR NOTES!
It’s tempting to simply copy your notes from class onto a flashcard, but it’s likely that you will remember less of your notes in the long run. This method also only takes a few minutes, so you may feel like there is no point in trying to be more efficient. However, if you want to truly learn and retain information over time, take 10–15 minutes every day to write out your notes. It will seem daunting at first (and it can be!) but eventually it will become second nature and make studying much easier.