How to take notes productively during a class
When attending a class, lecture or a seminar, we always have a question in mind: how to remember everything that was said, later? Well, the most common way to record past content is to take notes.
There are many different ways to take notes during a class or lecture at school. Some people like to write phrases, write down keywords, make drawings or diagrams, or even create small mind maps, among others.
And there are structured techniques, which follow certain rules and standards, which can bring additional benefits to the student, including greater ease to understand the subject, to review the notes and greater retention of the annotated content.
In this short article I am going to detail general techniques that can be employed to increase study efficiency when taking notes, while attending a class.
We will talk specifically about structured techniques, like the Cornell Method in our next article on this subject.
Tips for taking notes in classes
- Avoid trying to transcribe everything that the teacher says by writing down word for word. Try to write it down using your own words, as this leads to greater retention of the content, as it must be pre-processed by the brain so that it can be expressed with your words.
- Review your notes on the same day you have created them, and perform this review regularly. Spaced repetition is a great way to fix content in your mind.
- Always test your knowledge of the content of the notes taken, using quizzes, using flashcards or other techniques, such as the Cornell Method
- Testing yourself is important because it helps you to identify points that you did not understand correctly, in addition to the fact that carrying out tests is a way of reviewing the studied subject (“Recall”).
- Where to take notes? Should we use paper and pen or a notebook? Each option has its pros and cons, and it is important to determine what is best for you. I really do like taking notes on paper sheets.
- It is very common to think that we absorb the content taught in class in a much more in-depth way than we actually did. This is called the Illusion of Competence, and it can lead to very wrong study decisions – like, for example, not studying a topic because you think it dominates it.
- Before a class, it is interesting to familiarize yourself with the main topics or ideas that will be presented. Thus, during the class it will be easier to determine what is worth noting and what can be left out, optimizing the process.
- Try making connections between the content being studied and content already studied previously. Thus, it will be possible to rescue related ideas when necessary, and to identify relationships that could have went unnoticed.
- Whenever necessary, ask the teacher questions before making a note. This causes your knowledge to be organized before it is written.
And don’t forget: attending a class while sleepy is a very bad idea. Find out more about this by reading our article on the relationship between Sleep, Memory and Learning .