What is the best way of taking notes in class? It can be easy to miss out on important information, or to end up with too many notes to actually make sense. Avoiding these problems means being able to develop some effective note taking methods, which can include better focusing your attention, and finding ways to go back over your notes and type them up the same day. At the same time, it’s also worth making use of technology to increase the quality of your notes.

First, get used to not writing down everything that a teacher says, or at least trying not to; attempt to put information into bullet points, and go back over textbooks and any hand outs to fill in information. Taking too many notes can actually mean that you’re not concentrating properly on what’s being said, and your notes can end up being difficult to separate into clear points. Remember: effective note taking will lead to better learning and more structured exam revision.

A good approach to take in avoiding this problem is to practice dividing up key points into columns, and noting where the same points have been several times; often a speaker will lay out these points in their introductions and conclusions, making it easier to sum up later. You can also work with others to produce group notes, which you can compare and share with each other later. Moreover, it’s important to go back over your notes the same day, and try to type them up and identify important points.

Having a good system for organising your notes is also important; keep separate notebooks for different classes, and make a note of dates and times – having folders that are broken down into different terms and subjects can be a bit tricky to use at first, but will make it easier to go back over your notes when it comes to writing an essay or revising. Use highlighter pens, and type up notes if you want to jog your memory.

Depending on what you’re allowed to bring to class, you may be able to type your notes up using your laptop – although this may be a bit distracting for other people. There are also useful apps that can catalogue and tag your notes – Evernote is particularly effective at organising bits and pieces you’ve written down or copied onto your computer.

Another option is a digital pen like Livescribe, which comes with a camera, a mic, and a processor – you write on special paper, with everything you’ve produce appearing on a screen, with options to play back audio. While perhaps a bit elaborate for class, using technology in this way can allow you to have a comprehensive set of notes. If you’re allowed, you can also opt to record the whole lecture or talk using your phone; just make sure that it doesn’t go off unexpectedly. Once you have recordings, you can focus more on what a teacher is saying, and can be confident that you can go back over it later, and take down any information that you might have missed the first time around.

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