You should be taking notes. Whether you’re in high school, college, or just trying to remember something important, note-taking should be your go-to for remembering things! Taking notes isn’t just about writing down the things you hear. It has more to do with taking the right notes, writing down the important bits of information that you need to remember. This skill takes time and practice, but if you aren’t already developing a good system for taking notes, you might want to start! There are a good deal of systems out there that you can choose from, so you can pick your favorite and make it your own, or mix and match them. Here are three of my favorite methods for note taking!
1. The Outline Method. Probably the most popular method for taking notes, the outline method is simple and precise. If you’ve ever written an essay, then the outline structure will be familiar to you. It goes something like this:
This is a main topic
This is a subtopic
This is a thought or supporting fact
If you’re a logical person, then this system might make the most sense for you. It follows a very logical format, and it’s easy to understand and use. It also reduces the time that you need to edit or review, and it’s a clean structure to use. However, for this system to work well, the lecture you’re drawing your notes from needs to be structured as well. This means that some classes, like chemistry and math which often include lots of formulas and charts, might not work well with this system.
2. The Cornell Method. This method is best for review, as it’s a great way to divide up your notes. If you use this method, you’ll divide your paper up into three sections: notes, cues, and summary. In the notes section, you’ll put all the notes you take during the class. This is a place where you can mix and match, and use the outline method within the cornell method. The cues section can be written either during, or after class. This is where you’ll put all of your main points, people, or even potential test questions. The point of this section is to give you cues that will help you remember the big picture of ideas.
The last thing you’ll write using this method is your summary, at the bottom of the page. When you’re writing your summary, you’ll want to make sure the information from the class is still fresh in your mind. This means you might want to write it right after class, or while reviewing your notes. When you’re writing your cues section and summary, make sure to keep it simple. Your notes section is a different story; you can use doodles, diagrams, references, etc. - whatever helps you remember the information!
3. The Bullet Journal Method. This system is all about visual learning and memory. If you love to doodle - or if you’re into the aesthetics of your note taking more than the notes themselves - this is the method for you. Basically, it turns your notebook into a playground, where you can play around with your creativity and use visuals to help you remember information. You can mix and match different styles of note taking here, like the outline or cornell method, but represent them creatively, with colors and drawings to help you organize information.
Of course, the main drawback is the amount of time required to take notes. To counteract this issue, experiment with different methods that allow for quick note taking during class, and then organize them all together with colors, boxes, and whatever else you want to. It’s your journal!