It would be fair to say that in the classroom and leaning environment, one of the trickiest skills to master is the art of taking effective notes from a text book or novel that you might be studying. It can be extremely tempting to simply copy out nearly every sentence from the book in an attempt to absorb the information, but this method is not the best form of revision for most people. Taking notes is one of the best ways to make sure that you get to grips with the key points of a story, argument or explanation, but this can only be achieved if the notes that you are taking are worthwhile. Many students find that they struggle with translating information from the page in to their own notebooks and minds, and if you are one those strugglers, then this list detailing just how take good notes from books is exactly what you need to succeed.
1. Read The Whole Chapter First
Rather than skimming along and lifting any sentence or fact that you think might be relevant in real time, try to read through an entire chapter first in order to get perfect context. Then you can proceed to go back and highlight the sentences and phrases that will be relevant in helping you to understand and remember the overall message more clearly. If you make notes as you go, your streamlined synopsis will turn out to be more like a word for word copy because you will be unsure of what the end game is.
2. Use Highlighters
A highlighter is probably the best piece of stationery anyone making notes needs to have close to hand. If you have three of four different neon colours to play with, you can categorise your notes and make them much easier to read and understand when it comes to revision time. There is nothing worth than looking at a page of notes that all look exactly the same. With highlighters, you can create your very own key, for example, yellow referring to dates, green referring to important names, blue positive things, orange negative. You can get really creative with it and turn your notes in to a much more accessible resource on the page.
3. Try To Use Your Own Words
Rather than copying out sentence sand phrases word for word, try to translate the facts you are reading in to your own words as you write them in your notes. This helps to ensure that the information is actually being processed in your mind as you are making the notes, rather than just using the part of your brain that specialises in copying and pasting without paying much attention to the actual meaning of the words. Putting things in to your own words also stands you in better stead when it comes to exams and essay writing, as you will have already been using the creative part of your brain in your note taking exercises.
4. Do Group Work
Note taking can get extremely boring if you are doing it on your own, so why not try getting together with a few other classmates and having a group discussion that can then lead to note taking. You might find that opinions are expressed by others than you hadn’t even considered, and as a result you will be left with a much more comprehensive and interesting set of notes than if you had gone to the library and scanned through a text book alone.