Note taking is an essential skill that most teenagers use almost daily, for school, work, or extracurricular activities. Figuring out your style can be difficult, as the optimal way of taking notes can vary from class to class or activity to activity.
The first step in this process is to figure you how you will write your notes on paper or electronically. This could depend on how your activity is organized and how efficient you find either of these options. It will also depend on whether electronics like tablets or laptops are available to you.
There are several electronic note taking options, one of the most popular ones being Microsoft OneNote, which is compatible with many tablets and laptops. On the other hand, there’s always a good old fashioned notebook, pens, and pencils. It is the best idea to try both options if you’re able to and find what works best for you.
Now onto techniques for taking notes, I will discuss three main ways to take notes. Keep in mind, that there are other techniques and we need to find what works for you.
- Mind maps or thought webs are a good way for you to visualize a selection of ideas regarding a concept. They are different from a linear and methodical way of taking notes, as you have more control over where and how you want to place your ideas. If you are a visual learner this technique may suit you better than others as you will be able to conceive and then understand ideas whilst being engaged in the content.
- The “Cornell Method” is a technique that is suitable for review purposes, as it does a great job of condensing information and getting to the point. This method involves the division of a piece of paper into different sections (cues, notes, and summary), by which you can prompt yourself to study the material in a certain way and lastly understand the general ideas. See image example.
- Lastly, I will discuss a common, yet useful way to take notes. What many call the “outlining” method: it involves the use of main topics, subtopics, and points to organize the information. Outlining usually follows a generic linear pattern but is efficient at expressing a large number of concepts without being messy.
From my own experience, I know that for classes like math and statistics I need to keep my note taking method simple and to the point (list formulas and theories). For classes like economics or social studies the Cornell method is the most effective for memorizing a variety of concepts.
Be open minded and willing to change your techniques as you go. I hope that this blog helps you find your optimal way of taking notes and finding success in your studies!