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EP 27: Strategies for Effective Note Taking

This week on Episode 27 on the Homework Help Show, Cath Anne reviewed note taking techniques and how to use your notes to study. Tune in to prepare for back to class!

Looking for study tips, help with essay writing, or advice on how to be a better student? Welcome to The Homework Help Show, a weekly show where we teach, assist, and offer valuable insights for student life. From study hacks to writing tips, discussions about student mental health to step-by-step guides on academic writing and how to write a resume, we’ve got you covered. Want your questions answered? Write them below or join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #askHHG


Cath Anne: [00:00:05] Hi there! Welcome back to our channel!

Cath Anne: [00:00:08] For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Cath Anne host of The Homework Help Show as presented by Homework Help Global. We are about three weeks out before school is back in session and maybe some of you are already visiting your new campus. So, this week we wanted to provide you with some information on how to take effective notes and get you ready for going back to class.

Cath Anne: [00:00:34] As some of you may know, taking notes in university and college is much different than taking notes in high school. Perhaps you didn’t get the skill of taking notes in high school and now you’re looking for some pointers. Are you ready for university?

Cath Anne: [00:00:50] Today we’re going to give you those pointers. We will look at how you can prepare for class to get ready to take effective notes. We’ll look at some specific notetaking techniques and then we’ll talk about how to best use those notes in your study. So we hope this session will be of benefit to you.

Cath Anne: [00:01:10] Let’s jump in.

Cath Anne: [00:01:13] The first step towards taking good notes is to prepare for class ahead of time. If your professor has provided you with a syllabus, use that to become familiar with the topic or topics which will be covered that day.

Cath Anne: [00:01:28] Prepare further by taking time to skim or read the required readings for that day. When you read the information about a topic prior to going to class you are more likely to retain the information the professor introduces. You will already have the knowledge of the material and you’ll know what to expect. You’ll know what will be discussed and you will be prepared to engage with the material which in the long term is going to help you to retain that information.

Cath Anne: [00:02:06] Of course before you attend class it is essential to make sure that you pack all the things which you need to be successful. These are things like books, pens, pencils, and notebooks. It seems obvious but they are needed supplies for class. You might also want to bring your laptop if that is something that you find helpful. You may also want to pack some water. Make sure you have a reusable water bottle, be environmentally conscious. You might also consider a snack: something high fat with complex carbs to make sure you are both well hydrated and well fueled.

Cath Anne: [00:02:54] While you’re in class try to maintain a positive mindset. Your brain will thank you later when you’re able to recall more information as you were studying. So one way that you can do this is take five minutes before class to do a five minute meditation to prime your brain for notetaking and learning. When you’re in that positive mindset you’re more apt to absorb the information that’s provided in the lecture.

Cath Anne: [00:03:21] So we’re all ready for class. Now let’s discuss how to take the best notes. There are a variety of techniques out there; you may have seen some online. We encourage you to try a variety of approaches and use which one works best for you.

Cath Anne: [00:03:39] Before we get into the different types of notetaking let’s discuss whether or not to use your computer or to take notes manually. Although the computer may seem like a faster way to jot down what the professor is discussing, research has proven that using a pen and paper assist with retention. Depending on your approach to learning you may choose either of these methods, whatever works best for you. However, if you’re easily distracted I would recommend sticking to the tried and true good old pen and paper method. Just to avoid the tendency to browse on Facebook or jump into Minesweeper. Maybe I’m dating myself there but, jump into another game online instead of listening to the lecture.

Cath Anne: [00:04:29] Let’s get into the specific notetaking techniques. The Outline Method. To use the Outline Method, make five headings or topics you know will be covered in class. Under each heading make bullet points which include subtopics and information as provided in the professor’s lecture. This is a simple straightforward way to take notes. However, it can be difficult to review notes later if you choose this method. This is my preferred method of taking notes. I find it the easiest and least cluttered. The best way to review notes if you are using this method is to quiz yourself using each topic before reading your notes. What you do is take the recorded topic, then confirm your knowledge by reading your notes. Review what you do know in your head and then move on and read your notes. That will reinforce the information and keep it in your brain a little longer.

Cath Anne: [00:05:35] The second technique is flow notes. I really like this approach as well. It is more of a holistic method, which includes flow notes. So, basically what that means is when you use flow notes method you are readily engaging with the material, which helps you to retain the information. So, rather than simply taking notes and regurgitating the professor’s lecture on paper you are attempting to engage with the material by drawing arrows, doodles, and thoughts as you intake information. You also may want to make connections between material you are learning and information you already know. So, if you know a fact about sociology that the professor is discussing then you might want to write that in the margins of your notes and that will help you to remember what the professor is discussing. This will also help with retention, as mentioned. So, this is a wonderful option for taking notes.

Cath Anne: [00:06:37] If you are lucky enough to have one of those professors who uses those PowerPoint slides. This is probably one of the easiest yet still effective approaches to taking notes. Make use of these papers. So, they usually have the printouts on them and they have the pictures of the slides and they also have the lines of beside of the PowerPoint slide. Make use of them by writing notes as you engage with the material.

[00:07:06] Try using the techniques offered above. Like the flow notes technique or even the topic outline technique in combination with your slide notes so that you do remember some information.

Cath Anne: [00:07:23] So, those are three wonderful ways that you can make use of taking notes in the classroom. Now let’s move onto how do you use the notes that you’ve taken in order to enhance your learning? One of the most important pieces of advice here is to make sure you review your notes 24 hours after the time you’ve written them. So, have completed your class, you want to, at least, within the first 24 hours review your notes at least once. This will help to solidify the information in your brain.

Cath Anne: [00:08:06] Second, rather than waiting for exam time to review your notes, make sure to go over them frequently. Avoid cramming. Reviewing your notes on a consistent basis will help you in the long run because information will be cemented in your brain.

Cath Anne: [00:08:22] A third tip is to notice repetition. When you’re doing your readings have your notes close by. If you notice a theme in the readings and your professor mentioned it in class. It will likely be on the exam. So, make a note of repetitions like this and recall it so that you will be prepared for the exam.

Cath Anne: [00:08:45] So, those are my three tips and my three offerings for how to take effective notes.

Cath Anne: [00:08:50] That is it for this week, my friends. We hope this information was of benefit to you. Best of luck as you jump back into student life and college life and make sure that you jump on with me on Instagram and Facebook live. We have changed our livestream to every Monday evening at 7:00p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

[00:09:13] If you have a moment please jump on and we can have a quick chat. If you’re looking for more school and academic related content, please check out Homework Help Global on our various social media platforms. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram Google Plus, YouTube Medium. We have a lot of great blogs on Medium. We are on SoundCloud, Anchor, iTunes Apple podcast. Please remember if you liked this video it would be great if you could give it a thumbs up. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more great academic content. See you soon guys. Take care.