Taking notes is essential to studying. You can’t go back and look at information when you didn’t record it well. Here are three tools that will help you take better notes to make your studying more efficient.
This feels obvious, but it can be more complicated than it seems. Students often lose track of a notebook, are unable to find needed information, or incapable of deciphering what was written. Date each page of your notes and give it a clear headline that quickly indicates what topic the page covers. Put each subject in a separate notebook so that you don’t mix classes. If you forget a notebook and write your notes elsewhere, rewrite or attach the notes in the correct notebook as soon possible. You don’t want to be frantically looking for that page the night before an exam.
Using color is especially helpful for visual learners, but it can be useful for any note taker. Using color doesn’t just mean highlighting. Use colored pens or pencils to call out specific sets of information. For example, circle every important date with a red pen, underline significant equations in green, box keywords in yellow. Then, if you are looking for a specific piece of information, you will know exactly what to look for. Your brain will associate colors with certain pieces of information improving your ability to recall important facts and concepts.
Don’t save studying your notes until a few days before the exam. Instead, review your notes every night. This will give you a chance to make sure you are staying organized, you can color code your notes, draw helpful pictures, and expand on information that may seem lacking. The longer you wait to do this, the harder it will be to clarify notes that may be confusing or track down notes that are missing. Research also shows that reviewing a small amount every day is much more helpful in cementing information in your brain than cramming. A little review every day makes it easier to recall material while taking an exam.
When you take notes you don’t want to regurgitate information. Make connections, figure out key concepts and engage with the material. Putting in a small amount of effort initially can make your studies go faster and be more productive in the long run.
More About Mr. Test Prep’s
Michael Romano has been offering his Los Gatos SAT prep services for almost two decades. He’s seen thousands of kids and helped with just about every kind of standardized testing anxiety a student could have. This has taught him that increased scores come down to confidence. Yes, you have to understand the material, but confidence is—more often than not—the #1 cause of a student’s trouble with testing. Bearing that in mind, he has created an SAT tutoring program that builds confidence by desensitizing his students to the conditions of the test, while providing them with targeted instruction on both the academic content of the exam and the tips and tricks that make it so much easier.