Many students find it difficult to write an organized note. If they are given their notes to read, they will be unable to comprehend what they have written. This is not really about the handwriting; it comes down to how you write.
How do you organize your writing?
How do you make your note easy to read?
These are the questions on the table right now. If you can organize your note properly, you have taken a step to preparing yourself for effective studying. An organized note will help you to study smart and study well.
There are many importance tied to writing and keeping an organized note. We are going to be looking at them in this article.
For you to write an organized note, you have to be good at taking notes. Taking notes and organizing what you are writing will not only help you in school but also life after school.
For college students, taking notes is not really easy like the high school where the teachers will have to wait for you all to catch up. In college, it is more like an open-ended lecture style where the class is more interactive and the lecturer does more of discussion than teaching.
For the freshmen in college, this is really something they need to know so as to make an effective note in class to help them study better. This article is going to put you through writing an organized note whether as a freshman or you have been in college for some time. It is very important as it helps to train the brain to recognize important information and keep them in memory.
It is very important irrespective of the college degree you are pursuing. Whether science, business, arts or any other field of study, you need an effective note taking skill.
We have carefully structured this article to answer most of the questions you might have about taking and making notes and how you can make organized note. We will be looking at:
- What is note taking?
- What is note making?
- Difference between note taking and note making
- Types of note taking methods
- Why you should have a good note taking skill and write an organized note
- How to write an organized note
Just sit tight and enjoy every bit of this article as we have a lot to show you.
Let’s get started…
WHAT IS NOTE TAKING?
Note taking is the act of listening actively and writing down key points of information you are listening to. It is more than just writing down information, when taking notes you don’t only hear; you listen attentively to get important information.
When taking notes, you connect and relate the information you are getting to what you already know. When taking notes in class, your brain is expected to be active to take down information and organize this information in a way that you can understand easily so that you find it easy to study.
WHAT IS NOTE MAKING?
Note making is slower than note taking. When making notes, you are trying to recall, review and rephrase what the author or speaker has said in your own understanding.
Note making is the act of reviewing what you have listened to in order to write down the information in a way that suits you better and how you can recall that information easily.
As a student, it is important that you engage in both note taking and note making.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NOTE TAKING AND NOTE MAKING
Some people do not see the need of distinguishing these two concepts of writing but it is important that we spot the differences between them.
In Edgar Wright’s book in 1962, he distinguished these writing processes. So we are going to be looking at some differences between them.
|Note taking||Note making|
|Taking notes takes place when listening especially in class||Making notes takes place mainly when you are reading|
|The aim of taking note is to get the main point of the lecture or lesson so as to review later||The aim of making note is to understand the note in your own way so you can learn better.|
|Note taking is fast and you put down the speaker’s original language and thoughts.||Note making is slow and more complex as you take time to create your own understanding and version of the information.|
|Note taking is easier and the information can easily be forgotten if not reviewed later.||Note making is complex and involves more brain work for you to be able to recall the information.|
To be a better student and to write an organized note, you have to take notes and also review the notes to make notes too. We are going to buttress on this as we proceed in this article.
Let’s look at some common note taking methods and so you can pick the one that suits you better and use it effectively.
TYPES OF NOTE TAKING METHODS
- THE OUTLINING METHOD
When using this method, you write down key points of the lecture. You can use bullet format or a numbering format. But the idea of this method is to note the key points and highlight them.
You can write the main points at the heading with capital letters or highlight the text then use bullets to note the related words or points.
For instance; in a biology class where the topic is “living and non-living things”, the main point of the class can be “characteristics of living things”. This is how you would write it and make your note.
- THE CORNELL METHOD
This method was developed in the 1950s by Cornell University and it is a very common note taking method. You will see some similarities with outlining method as you will still use the method of taking down key points. But in this case, you go deeper into organizing your note. You get to divide a page of your note into three sections:
- The left hand side for the main points “cue”.
- The wider page of the note for explaining the points you have listed in your “cue section” at the left hand side of the same page.
- The bottom page is for summarizing your write up and what you understanding from the note you have taken down.
We are going to show you an example as we will try to divide a page of your note into the three sections to illustrate.
- THE SENTENCE METHOD
This method is a simpler method but here you don’t focus on only the main points of the lecture, you take note of everything you are listening to. You try as much as possible to take down every information the best way you can. In as much as it simple to practice, you might not get everything that is being said and you might miss out on the key points while trying to write down the less important points.
In the sentence method, you will definitely need to review your note later to understand and organize what you have written down and there is much to do when reviewing your note.
- Mind Mapping Method (MMM)
This method is more of having a visual concept of what you are learning. With the method, you have a central point or idea and every other point falls under it. You use strokes and arrows to relate the ideas in the note.
It is more effective for topics that can be broken down into various points.
Let’s look at an example below:
Now you have to ask yourself what note taking method suits you best. All the note taking methods are good depending on what you are writing so you will know which one will help you in writing effectively.
WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A GOOD NOTE TAKING SKILL AND WRITE AN ORGANISED NOTE
Hope you are still with us? We are going to be looking at the benefits of writing a comprehensive and organized note. As a student, it is very important that you become good at taking notes. It is a crucial skill that students need to learn and master.
Some of the benefits are:
- It helps you focus better
A student that knows how to take notes will be able to focus better in class and take down the key points of the lesson. When taking notes, you are expected to be focused and minimize distractions as this will help write better and have an organized note.
Developing an effective note taking skill will help you concentrate better in class and not miss out the important points.
- It keeps you active in class
Taking notes in class helps your body to be active and helps you to be involved in the lesson. You try to take down the information you are hearing so you don’t miss out and in doing this, you stay alert and try to avoid distractions.
You also ask questions and also try to answer questions that are being asked. You don’t feel sleepy or drowsy because you are actively involved in the class.
- It helps you recall information
A good note taking skill will help you take down important information so that you can recall them. In taking notes, you are to highlight the key ideas and structure your note in a way that you can study better and easily; all these will help you recall all the information you get in class.
The use of abbreviations and some other note taking strategies will help you put what you have taken down to memory.
- It helps you to understand what you are learning
Some students make notes while taking notes in the sense that they write down the key points and explain them in their own understanding; this can be done during the class or after the class but it is best done after the class. This will help you understand what is being taught.
When making notes, try to relate what you are writing with what you already know and this will help you understand better and write it down in your own words. Writing an organized note will help boost your understanding of that topic.
- It helps to improve your listening skill
Hey!! You know this is right. For you to get all the information while in class without missing any, you have to listen with rapt attention. When taking notes in class, it is important that you minimize distractions and focus on what you are learning.
This helps to increase your ability to concentrate on what you are listening to whether in class or elsewhere.
- It helps you perform well academically
When you are good at taking notes and also organizing your writing, you will be able to study well and also perform well in exams and test. Taking down key points, explaining them in your own words and understanding and structuring your note will help to make studying easier and helps you learn faster.
Also organizing the way you answer questions in exams and test will make your exam script easy and interesting to mark and this will help you do well in your exams and boost your academics.
- It helps you to note key points and put them into memory
Taking note is about taking down key points using different methods (Cornell, outlining, mind mapping, etc.), all these note taking methods will help you note the key points or ideas in a lesson and help you put them to memory.
- It helps you study better
A good note taking skill will help you prepare a comprehensive note that will help you study better. Writing well helps you to study effectively.
A student that has a good note taking skill is always organized in class and listens with rapt attention making you take down every vital information in class and helps you make a better note while studying and write down what you have learnt in your own words there by boosting your understanding.
An organized note makes studying interesting, easy and fast.
- It saves time and energy when studying
Like we have said earlier that when your note is organized, you will not really have a problem studying as you know everything you have written. You write in an organized way, noting key ideas and related ideas making it easy for you to make connections while studying without getting frustrated.
When studying with an organized note, you get to manage and save time while studying as the note is easy to read and understand.
- You don’t get confused
Hey!! Guess you must have scribbled down something during lectures and got confused while studying later. Well, that is one problem of having a disorganized note or not taking down information properly.
When your note is organized, you won’t get confused while studying as the key ideas or important information are clearly stated or highlighted telling you that you have to focus more on them and put them to memory.
- They serve as good records anytime and any day
An organized note will serve as a good record for reference anytime. When you have an organized note, you can fall back to your note even after school to check up some information.
HOW TO WRITE AN ORGANIZED NOTE
We know at some point in college, taking notes can be challenging and some freshmen in college find it difficult to make a comprehensive note as they are still trying to get used to the college system.
Well, you don’t need to bite yourself too hard if you are having some difficulties taking notes in class. This part of the article is going to show you how you can develop a good note taking skill and write an organized note.
So let’s proceed…
- Prepare yourself for every class
Preparing yourself before going for class is a key step in taking notes. You have to prepare yourself both mentally and physically for the day’s activities and organize yourself properly for the classes you have for the day.
Everything starts from when you get off the bed in the morning to when you settle down in class. Arrange and sort your books before every class and so well to start each lecture or lesson on a new page of your note book.
Look at the subjects you are having for the day and revise the notes so that you will recall previous information and know where the last lesson stooped and prepare yourself for the lesson of the day.
Eat a nice and light meal before coming to class. You wouldn’t want to come to class with an empty stomach. You breakfast is a very important meal of the day and it helps you start off on a brighter side so don’t skip your meal.
- Understand the purpose of taking the note
For you to prepare your mind for the class and be able to prepare notes properly, you have to know and understand why you are taking notes. It could be for you to be able to study better. Understand the note taking process and you will see yourself taking and writing an organized note.
- Sit in front of the class
Research has it that students that sit in front of the class has a better chance of getting vital information than those that sit at the back. You get to hear the tutor clearly and don’t get easily distracted.
Though sitting at the front of the class is not a guarantee of your success but you stand a chance of taking notes better, getting vital and key information that will help you study smart and study better.
- Minimize distractions and listen more
For you to get every information the tutor is saying in class, you have to listen more and talk less. You have to minimize the distractions from within you, that is, your thoughts and emotions and try to listen to the person talking.
This will help you take down every piece of information whether relevant or irrelevant and you will be able to differentiate them. A good learner is someone who listens more. When you listen more, you try to understand what the speaker is saying and relate it to what you already know.
Focusing on what you are listening to helps you to think and write. The brain is always active during this process.
- Know the note taking method that suits you
We all know that everyone is different. What works for student A might not work for student B.
We have given you some methods of taking and making notes and also guide you on how you can make an effective note and take notes better but the main part still falls on you to decide which method suits you better.
All the note taking methods are good and efficient but which one will you use that will be better for you.
How are you going to write so that you can easily understand what you have written?
Every student reading this article should figure out the note taking method that suits him or her and work with it. You can also mix the methods, all these are just to make you write better and comprehend easily.
- Note the things the tutor mentioned more than twice
Yes we said it. You should know that the phrases, words, and sentences the tutor repeated more than twice are likely to come out in your test and exam. You have to note them while writing by highlighting them with a different color or underlining them. This way, you will be able to know that those phrases, words, sentences or texts are important and you are to memorize them and put them in memory.
- Highlight and underline your headings and key points
Have you noticed that your textbooks carry this format? In your textbook, regardless of the subject the headings, subheadings, key-points and other important things are either written in capital letters, highlighted with a different color from the text or underline.
This is to show the importance of these texts and it makes your writing neat and clear. Try to use this when taking or making notes, it will make your notes easy to read, understand and use.
- Use abbreviations and acronyms when necessary
Abbreviations are a way to write faster and also it helps to recall some important information. For instance, in a biology class when the tutor is talking about the “characteristics of living things”, you can decide to use the acronym (MR NIGER DAC) to represent these characteristics.
It will help you write fast and even remember what you are writing. The use of abbreviations and acronyms when writing makes writing easy. But do not use these abbreviations or acronyms during your test or exam.
- Have separate books for each subject
You cannot write all the subjects you are offering in one note book and expect to understand what you have written. This is why it is better that you have separate notes for each subject you are offering as you get to arrange your books properly.
Writing with separate notes for each subject will help you get a better understanding of the subject and topics when studying.
It saves the time of sorting for information as you just have to go the note for that subject and read through to get the information you want unlike when you are writing every subject and topic in a single note book. Your note will definitely be disorganized.
- Engage your brain while writing but don’t get too distracted
Sometimes writing and thinking can distract you from listening attentively to the tutor and trying to fathom what was previously said might make you miss out on what he or she just said. But it is still good that you think while writing.
Let’s put it this way, when writing or taking notes, try to read as you are writing; your brain instantly works on what you are writing and tries to make a meaning out of it.
You can also put down everything you are hearing and later review the note to make a comprehensive note. You take the note in class and give your own understanding of what you have taken down when reviewing the note.
- Ask questions when you don’t understand
Many students get shy to ask questions even when they don’t understand what is being said. Asking questions when you are taking notes helps you to get clarified and understand the information better.
Try to ask questions when you don’t understand and ask open-ended questions so that the tutor or teacher will explain further to make you understand better and write better too.
- Review your notes at the end of class each day
For you to make a better note, you have to review what you have taken down in class at the end of the day. Try to look at the key points you highlighted, the headings and subheadings, the new vocabulary words etc.
Reviewing your notes will help you make corrections and make the information stick with you. While reviewing the note, you start visualizing what happened in class and the demonstrations the tutor made and this way you begin to recall and make connections with what you learnt ad what you already know.
Reviewing your note helps you to understand the lesson better. It also helps you make note from the note you have taken in class.
- Compare your notes with those of friends or classmates
Another way to make a better note is by comparing your notes. When you compare the note you have taken down with those of your classmates, you get to fill in missing spaces or get information you might have missed in class.
Comparing your note helps you make a better note to help you study well. You also get to see how your classmates write and see the note taking method you can emulate to help you write better and faster.
- Record the tutor if you are slow in taking notes
You will have to be sure the tutor permits this and if he or she does, then you can record what they are saying. You can use dicta-phones or your smartphones to record and later settle down to listen to what you have recorded to make your notes.
This will give you a chance to listen to the tutor again and even understand better if you didn’t understand while in class. Because you are recording doesn’t mean you will not write, the record is just to help you fill up spaces you missed and get other information you might have missed.
Every student needs to develop a good note taking skill as it will help you as a student and also after school. Some student might later work for corporate bodies where you will have to take down notes during meetings and conference. You will have to take notes in these meetings so it is important you work on your ability to take notes well.
Read up this article thoroughly as it is structured to give you a deep insight on how and why you should write an organized note. We hope this article helps you.
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