5 tips to help you take better notes

5 tips to help you take better notes


We have all had those days where we tell ourselves “yep, this week I am going to stay on top of my studies and take great notes in the lecture (for once)” and then afterwards you realise that a) you took down about 3.5 words or b) you wrote down so many jumbled words that when you go to read it, you can’t for the life of you understand what those words mean!

So how does one take good quality notes that you and/or others can actually make sense of when it comes to exams or assessments? I have collated some tips that should help!

1. Location, location, location – Believe it or not, where you choose to sit during the lecture will have a big impact on the quality of your notes. If you can find a seat close to the front you will have less chance of missing important points. Also, as much as it may suck – try sitting away from your friends as they may cause distractions and disrupt your focus.

Animation: I have a new friend

2. Structure is key – Remember back in primary school when you got marked on your 2cm margin and your placing of the date? Well, you are in luck as those little things are all very helpful when it comes to taking good notes! Always remember to put the date on your work – you will thank yourself later when you need to look back on something specific.

3. Poor workmen always blames their tools It is important to work out what is best for you when it comes to recording information. If you prefer to take notes by hand, make sure you are prepared with the right equipment i.e. a pen that isn’t going to run out 10 minutes into the lecture! This also applies to other technology – make sure your laptop is fully charged the night before, and while we’re at it, let’s get real people we all know the chances of you finding relevant information on Facebook or ASOS is slim to none, so do yourself a favour and stay off social media for the hour!

Animation: Procrastination with glittering stars

4. Short and sweet It is beneficial to use ‘short hand’ especially when your lecturer talks at a million miles per hour. However, it is important that you develop your own style of short hand to avoid confusing yourself later on. There is no point using someone else’s short hand techniques if you don’t understand them yourself. Jump online and Google some of the different ways of shortening your words that will stick in your own mind and you and your wrists will be happy.

5. Sub Headings are your best friend These are pretty much done for you anyway! Most lecturers set out their presentations with sub headings so make sure you take note! It is important to decipher between different topics and points so that later when you re-visit your notes they don’t look all blurred into one.

Animation of man writing notes

These are just a few ways you can improve your method of taking notes. It is most important that you listen from start to finish and pay attention to your lecturers cue’s and clues.

Good luck with Session 2! If you need any further assistance to improve your work try visiting the CSU Library page, you may be surprised by some of the tutorials on offer!

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