In most classrooms, there are two kinds of students. One group takes very few notes (if any at all), and the other takes detailed, yet still functional and surprisingly aesthetic notes that serve as amazing study guides later. If you’re the first student but you’d rather develop awesome note-taking and study habits like the second, the following information is for you.
taking notes doesn’t work well for everyone, it does work especially well for kinesthetic and visual learners. Kinesthetic learners tend to absorb more information by doing whereas visual students learn best by seeing. In either case, taking clean, aesthetic notes – perhaps even with a little color and flair – can really go a long way toward reinforcing tough information. To see some of the absolute best functional and aesthetic note-taking examples and get some inspiration, visit the #studygram hashtag on Instagram or search for “aesthetic notes” on Pinterest.
Don’t Use Too Much Color
It can be tempting to break out seven differently-colored highlighters and start marking up your notes, but there’s evidence to suggest that sticking to just one or two colors is best. Anything more can be too distracting, and it can even take away from your ability to absorb the information. Ideally, write your notes in blue or black ink, then use one or two highlighters to mark up what you’ve written. You could highlight headings in one color, underline subheadings in the same color, and then highlight key terms in the second color. This process is incredibly easy and functional, and when it comes time to study from your notes later, skimming for the right topic is a breeze.
Don’t Write Everything Down
There are two main reasons why people take notes.
- To help get the information to stick. For kinesthetic (and some visual) learners, taking notes is one of the best ways to initially learn new information.
- To have a customized study guide for midterms and finals. Every medical student can benefit from this. Essentially, if you take good notes and you keep them organized throughout your course, by the time you’re ready to study for a final exam or even your licensing exam, you have organized data that is personalized to your unique needs available to you.
No matter what your reason for taking notes might be, there’s one rule of thumb to follow: only write things down if you know you need to study them. If the information being discussed in the lecture or in the text is already familiar to you and you can recall it with ease, there’s no need to write it down. Save your paper (or tablet, or hard drive) real estate for concepts that you still need to work on.
These three tips can truly help you improve your note-taking skills, which can help you become a better student in turn. Though the aesthetics aren’t truly necessary, they can help to inspire you to get started. If you can keep your notes neat and clean, and if you can write down only the things that are important to you, you will be glad you did when it comes time to take your exam.