Note taking really isn’t that bad

Cal over at Study Hacks wrote a blog post on how to take notes for power point slides, which got me thinking about my note-taking strategies. I’m a great note taker, always have been, but for some people, it’s a chore. I actually enjoy taking notes because I learn the material that much faster and when the test comes, I go over my notes a few times and I’m good to go.

Cal’s suggestion for power point lectures is to download (if available) the power point and simply take your notes in the notes section of the slides instead of printing them out first. That way, after the lecture, you can print out the slides and your notes together. See his post for more details. This is a great idea, even though this semester I don’t have any professors that actually use power point. The only notes I take are for political science, the class I stopped going to (I just read the chapters and take the tests, it’s a ridiculous class).

My personal suggestions for great notes:

  • If the lecture is over a chapter, read the chapter first (seriously), outline it in Word and print it out. Bring this to class and in a colored pen (blue or red stands out the best), write notes, questions, and comments.
  • If it’s a simple lecture, use different colors. I use black for main ideas and then for any comments/questions, I use a blue pen. This way it’s easy to tell what’s what. Color is also a great tool for memorization. Brains remember color distinction.
  • If you like to handwrite your notes, type them up later. This is a great way to study for the test because you’re going over the material again and making it easier to read. When I do this, whatever was in blue, I keep in blue on the computer to further distinguish comments.
  • Use lots of color. Sometimes switching pens while writing notes can be distracting, but during study time, highlight and draw pictures. Color really helps, even if it seems pointless.

These things work for me, but they might not work for you. What does? Do you have any strategies or tips you’d like to share?