Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
I feel really good about going back to school for my master’s degree. It’ll help my career outlook and put me on track to a doctorate. But I’m not looking forward to taking lecture notes. Homework and tests were always easy for me, but as soon as the professor began lecturing and my pen hit the paper, I’d begin sweating bullets. I never knew what to write down! I would miss large chunks of information and it made me anxious about upcoming tests. I hope to find a way to deal with this problem before classes begin.
Good study notes and high grades go hand-in-hand. After all, if you want to perform well on your tests and projects, you must have the right material to review. This struggle can also lead to anxiety when it comes time to study for an exam. This means your note-taking skills may need practice.
At Rice Psychology Group, our licensed psychologists and mental health counselors in Tampa want to offer some effective note-taking tips to help you out!
The Benefits of Effective Note-Taking
Although we are told in school that good note-taking can be the difference between a passing and failing grade, most students are never taught how to develop this skill. One of the first things to know is how beneficial it is to be good at it.
For instance, good note-taking skills:
- Lowers Your Stress – Whether at school or work, taking good notes will ensure that you learn the subject better and faster. This translates into possessing the confidence to perform well on tasks and keeps your stress levels lower.
- Keeps You Awake – Effectively taking notes means you being alert and involved throughout the lesson.
- Helps You Connect the Dots – As you listen to a lecture and write down important bits of information, your mind will start to make connections between topics that will be helpful during exams or taking on tasks.
- Provides You with Review Material – Notes are the “flash cards” for reviewing before exams. If yours are top notch, you’ll likely be able to get through your tests without much of a struggle.
Getting Better at It
Now that you know the benefits of effective note-taking, you can take steps towards actually honing that specific skill! First thing’s first, should you use a pen/pencil or keyboard?
According to an article by the Association for Psychological Science, taking notes with a pen or pencil helps with recall and comprehension of what we learn because we tend to summarize and understand information better when we write things down.
If you want to improve your note-taking, you should:
- Start Reading – If reading has been assigned, try to do it before a lecture. By previewing the material or related information before lectures, your ears will be primed to more easily hold onto important information and you’ll be apt to make those connections even faster. If you compare your notes from times that you did the reading beforehand and times that you didn’t, we think you’ll be amazed at the difference in quality.
- Organize – Make a habit of numbering and dating your notes, highlight important information, and leave spaces where you can add more detail later.
- Pick and Choose – Don’t try to write down every word that the lecturer says. Instead, summarize the main points of the lesson, write short sentences and abbreviations, and prioritize any information that has been highlighted up on a screen or board (this tends to be important information).
- Keep an Ear Out for Cues – Chances are your teacher will let you know when information is vital by either literally telling you so or by emphasizing and changing his/her tone of voice when speaking. If this happens, write it down.
- Review – Naturally, you’ll be less likely to remember information from a lecture as time passes. To increase retention, review your notes as often as you can. If you have any questions, write them down to ask your instructor at a later time. It’s always a good idea to challenge yourself further by doing your own quick test questions on the subject.
Let us know if any of these tips have worked for you in the past or if you’d like to share one that we didn’t mention!
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Sometimes, school and work can feel like they’re getting the better of us. If you or someone you love is currently in such a situation, know that Rice Psychology Group in Tampa is here to help. Our team is fully trained to listen and help you find the answers to your questions. Find out more about our services by contacting us today!