In my previous blog I discussed the importance of successful time-management and its beneficial effects upon academic performance. I would now like to concentrate on effective note-taking, a practice that often gets neglected in the learning process.
Note-taking can really help improve the way you study and write. This is because you can keep a written record of important ideas that your home tutors share with you, and of key information you find in your textbooks. With your notes at hand, you have an excellent starting point for independent home study. By writing down and studying notes, you can easily look back and remember important facts. When referring to the notes you make throughout your course, you can find continuities, relate ideas and have a better understanding of the main concepts in your area of study. Good notes help you think critically, and are easier to review nearer exam-time. This compact and concise overview of your learning material can save you from a lot of pre-exam stress!
Given the usefulness of good note-taking, you may now wonder what the best way to keep effective notes is. Well, it is very difficult to write down everything your tutor says, or all of the information contained in your books; so, how do you know what the most significant parts are? A helpful way is to look out for points your tutor emphasizes or repeats. Tutors sometimes also give very clear cues, by telling you that what will follow is a central concept in your course. In this way, you learn to separate key points from details, and you can single out major ideas.
There are several ways of note-taking, and depending on your learning style and preferences, you can, for example, use a grid, linear notes, or a mind map. You may also find abbreviations very useful. Writing down full sentences can be very time-consuming, so it is a good idea to make a note of keywords and also use abbreviations (e.g., etc.) where possible. Take some time to experiment with different ways of note-making until you find the one that suits you best, and enjoy a very solid and productive home learning experience!