Take Note! Knox students offer tips on successful note-taking

Five things to do, or not-do

February 11, 2014

Notebook created by Knox College theatre students

How can I stay awake in class, learn things, and get more out of life?

Note Taking WorkshopTake better notes, according to Knox College students Ashlee Pitts and Crystal Singletary, leaders of a campus workshop in note-taking, sponsored by the Knox College Center for Teaching and Learning.

Here are their top five tips for note-takers in high school or college:

1. Keep notes from different courses separate
Sometimes you may start a notebook for Chemistry, then, for whatever reason, pick up with French or Calculus or English. It is important to separate courses from each other when taking notes so that when you go back, you'll know what course you are looking at. Consider using a binder with tab dividers. You'll be able to rearrange notes with ease.

2. Don't stress over spelling and grammar
We all go through it. We start to write notes, and we stop when we realize that we misspelled a word. This could lead us into stressing out about what we write. DON'T WORRY. Your notes are your own private resource, so it doesn't matter if you misspelled a word or used their instead of there -- although you will need to know the difference! Focus on getting the point across. When you're reviewing your notes, you can go back and make corrections.

Note Taking Workshop3. Be selective
Don't try to write everything that everybody says. You have to pick out what you think will be important for the exam. Pay attention to key words and ideas, and weed out the fluff. For example, when the class is Politics and the topic is Russia in the 1800s, don't be distracted if somebody goes off on a tangent about later connections between the Soviet Union and Mexico -- of which there are several!

4. Use date headings
While this may seem like a silly thing to do, this tip goes along with the idea of keeping notes separate. If you write something in January, followed by something in May, when you go back to study for an exam it can be hard to find the information you were writing about on certain days. Same with subjects: Economics and Calculus both involve math. If you have notes from both, you should always head the paper with the subject so that when you go back to study you can easily find the different courses.

4 1/2. B COnSIStENT
We know there are days when we want to doodle or try using different styles of handwriting or font. Try to be consistent; especially with your abbreviations. If you abbreviate the word Politics as Pol. stick with it! If you switch to P/, you may not remember what that means when you're reviewing notes weeks or months later.

Note Taking Workshop