Posted by Nicole Cohen on August 29, 2018.
You have all your textbooks and supplies ready for back to school, but there’s a problem: not all notes are created equal. With different subjects, course-styles, and instructors, you’ll need to customize your notes for every class. But never fear; here are four different note-taking strategies that you can utilize at the start of the new semester.
The Cornell Method is great for classes that have a lot of vocabulary, terms, or formulations. Separate your page into two vertical columns, the left about ⅓ of the page and the right about ⅔. Use the right column to take notes during class, and the left to identify each section with a label or short sentence. When it’s time to study for the midterm or final, it will be easy to find everything in your notes.
Mind maps are perfect for humanities classes such as history, English, art history, political science, or philosophy. As you cover big concepts over large spans of time, it can be difficult to keep everything organized. That’s where mind maps can help you clearly visualize how important people, events, and ideas are connected. Create a circle in the middle of your page with the main idea or topic of that day’s lecture. Use that as a basis for clusters of terms and notes, moving outward from main ideas to smaller details. If you want to be really organized, you can use color coding to keep track of periods of time, people, or concepts!
The Outlining note taking strategy is best used in classes that require neat, chronological notes. Using whatever numbering system you prefer (1,2,3...; a,b,c...; i,ii,iii...; I, II, III... etc.) and indentations, organize your notes with main topics, subtopics, and lists. With this method, each indented or chronologically numbered note will correspond to the note above it, keeping everything clear and connected. You can also use color coding with this method to further organize your notes by definitions, descriptions, facts, and observations.
The Equation method is great for classes that require you to know formulas, equations, and proofs. Start by titling the page with whatever formula you will focus on. Then write out and label the equation in full at the top of the page so that you can always find it for reference. Underneath the formula, write down example and practice problems to help you better understand how the formula should be applied and solved.
All of these methods can be easily added to your own repertoire of note taking strategies. They will help you have more organized notes, but more importantly they will help you better understand how the material you’re learning can be connected and applied to large concepts and goals.
Nicole is an undergraduate student at Tufts University where she is studying English and Film. She is passionate about all things writing, journaling, and design. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys reading, going to flea markets, and going to the movie theatre. Her favorite product from the Rocketbook line is the Everlast Mini, which she uses to write down her to-do lists for the day!