Make the most of your notes
Most students will tell you that a key part of doing well in college is taking good notes. In fact, it seems like there is no shortage of apps and techniques that promise to make note taking easier and more efficient. But what about after you write down your notes? Is there a better way to use them than just reading and rereading them as you study? Let’s take a deeper look into strategies you can use to get the most out of your notes after class.
Ways to Use Your Notes
*Get Social: Meet up with classmates or a study group to compare your notes. Your classmates might have thought of different ways to explain information that helps it make sense to you. You might have caught crucial details that your classmates missed. Revise your notes based on what you discuss with your classmates to get a more complete picture of the concepts.
*Rearrange the Information: Taking notes about brand new concepts is a terrific way to remember novel ideas, but it is also important to step back and figure out how these concepts can be integrated into the rest of what you’ve learned for that course. Strategies like comparison matrices and concept maps (see below) can help you reorganize information from your notes in ways that allow you to combine facts from multiple note taking sessions and dig deeper into the relationships between ideas.
*Review, Summarize, & Question: Give yourself some space after lecture - anywhere from an hour to an entire day. Then, revisit your notes by re-reading them. Jot down questions you still have about the content in the margins. Write summaries of each portion of information as you re-read. This strategy will help you assess which concepts stuck with you after class and which you need to review more in future study sessions.
*Create Your Own Tests: Avoid falling into the trap of studying by just reading and rereading your notes. Instead, turn your notes into something interactive! Use your notes to create practice problems or scenarios that you can analyze yourself or swap with classmates. This will help you think critically about the types of tasks you are asked to complete for an exam and give you a study tool!
College is all about using your time efficiently, so it’s wise to make the most out of the notes you take. You can get more from your notes by using the strategies above to review and apply your content long after the class is over.
For more on note taking, enroll in our Note Taking Online Module on Canvas: https://rutgers.instructure.com/enroll/7MAYWM
Kurt, Dr. Serhat. “Concept Maps and How to Use Them.” Educational Technology, 14 Jan. 2020, https://educationaltechnology.net/concept-maps-and-how-to-use-them/.
Kristine Byrnes, Ed. M., Academic Coach, Fall 2022