Have you just started college and are you confused with all the information in class? Do you go through reams of your course material but struggle to retain anything? What you need to do is take notes.

Reading your course material is not enough. You also need exceptional note-taking methods to help you recall important information later. Note-taking isn’t just jotting down every word spoken but you have to record the main points.

Do you feel the need to brush up your note-taking skills or improve them for better understanding? Well, it’s never too late to start.

Before you make notes, adopt a note-taking mindset:

Why do you need to learn note-making methods? Well, for starters, to help you focus and understand the topics. Once you decide to apply note-taking strategies to difficult as well as easy topics, you will have a much better understanding of the main concepts.

Note-Making Methods

Here are some easy note-making methods to start with:


1. The Outline Method for Note-taking

This is inarguably one of the easiest note-taking methods. So, if you are new to note-taking techniques, you can easily start with this one.

So, how does this method work? Well, you select four to five key points for the specific lesson. Under every key point, you create sub-points about what’s being discussed about those topics.

This note-taking method doesn’t overwhelm you and helps you focus on important aspects.

Use this method when:

  • You want to organize notes from the start

  • You notice a correlation between topics and subtopics

  • You want to quiz yourself on the topic later by converting points into questions


2. The Cornell Note-taking Method

The Cornell note-taking method was developed by Cornell University in the 1950s. This is the most commonly used note-taking method that also focuses on the key points but on a deeper level. To use this method, you need to divide a page into three sections:

  • A narrow column for ‘cue’

  • A wider column for your notes

  • A bottom section for a summary

Jot down your key points in the ‘cue’ section. This is where you write the central idea and keywords to help you recall larger ideas and topics later. The ‘notes’ section is the largest part where you expand and explain the points and ideas in the cue section. To make it easier, you can use numbers or bullets. The ‘summary’ section is where you summarize all the information on the rest of the page clearly. 

The Cornell method results in more organized notes and allows students to quickly and identify keywords and key concepts from a lecture. The notes are more systematic and can easily be used as a study guide for exams.

Creating notes is a skill you will also need later at work. Harappa’s Reading Deeply and Writing Proficiently courses will teach ways of reading deeply and writing effectively so you can take notes efficiently.

Explore the skills & topics such as Writing Skills, Process of Writing, How to Write a Report, 7 C's of Communication & Elements of Communication from our Harappa Diaries blog section and learn to write proficiently.

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