This post was most recently updated on April 19th, 2022
[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
Do you have favorite note-taking methods that you still use until now?
In junior and high school, I had notes for every subject: math, physic, history, language, etc. Our teacher told us to take notes and because I like to take notes, I kept it neat with colorful pens as decoration. Taking notes at school and at home became a habit for me at that time.
In college, I needed to improve some of my note-taking methods. I’m pretty good at taking notes, and now I need to improve it a bit. Our lecturers often give us digital files that we have to read ourselves and sometimes give assignments to review.
And here I am, talk about how to take good notes in class, introduce you to some note-taking methods that I use till now, and make sure you have multiple pens, highlighters, sticky notes, a notebook, your textbook, and your laptop.
The Cornell Method
The Cornell method was developed in the 1950s by Cornell University, which is the most common note-taking method most people used. I like to use this method when I was in high school. This method still uses key points, but it goes deeper into the organizing method.
The Cornell method is broken into three sections:
- The Cue section: where you fill out main points to help you recall larger ideas
- The Note section: where you explain those cue points; you can use outline method here
- The Summary section: where you write up all of the information in a clear sentences.
The Cornell Method is one of my favorite note-taking methods. It’s a pretty good way of dividing up your notes if you’re looking to get the most out of your review time. Keep your cue and summary sections as simple as possible. You can get creative at the note section with page references, diagrams, doodles, and whatever else you need to add.
The Sentence Method
It’s similar to the outline method. I use this sentence method when I was in college because it is easier when the material is delivered quickly. Some of my professors like to do a slide presentation and some prefer to read their material directly from their paper or laptop.
Immediately review these notes after class and note what information is most important and least important. After that, you can rewrite your notes into an organized map so that you can visually see the ordered connections. I like to add colors and bullet points when rewriting my notes.
The Mapping Method
Every month I brainstorm ideas for my blogging content using these flow notes. I write down topics, draw arrows, add doodles, etc. Looking at my notes with colorful pens is great fun. I read the material then identify the main topics and underline them at the top of the paper. Then connect the sub-topics with arrows, circles, or squares. Color coding of information depending on where the information is coming from can be helpful. In fact, mapping methods help you clearly see a topic from a global perspective.
The mapping method is not very popular with many people because it is more difficult to share with others. Not many people can understand your notes and in the end, you have to explain them back. But this note is designed to stimulate your understanding of the material as you are reading it. For me, this is one of the great note-taking methods if you’re working from home.
If you’re unsure which note-taking method fits your learning style, start from the top and try each one. Keep in mind that one method might work well for one class but not necessarily all of your classes. So, try out multiple ones and keep switching them out when you feel your retention start to stall.