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Taking Better Notes and Improving Your Studying

Taking notes is a vital part of the studying process. Not only does it allow you to highlight important information you’ve learned from your course and refer back to it, but the act of writing notes has been shown to improve knowledge retention. However, simply writing everything down that you learn isn’t the right approach.

To improve your notes and boost your overall effectiveness while studying, there are lots of techniques you can use. In this article, you’ll learn more about proper note-taking and how to ensure you use your time wisely while studying for your next test or interview.

Using Your Notes for Flashcards

With even the most basic notes, you can boost your learning success significantly by turning them into a fun game. Flashcards are simple cards that have a question on one side and an answer on the other. You can easily create flashcards for studying by looking at guides online. It’s really simple to use your notes to make a good collection of cards that cover an entire subject.

This is a great way to improve the effectiveness of your study sessions, as it makes them more fun. You can turn your flashcards into a game, rewarding yourself for getting answers right and keeping track of your scores. You can also carry your flashcards around, so you’ll be able to study no matter where you are.

Basing Your Notes on Your Learning Style

When you’re taking notes, it’s important to base them on your specific learning style. According to research, everyone has a different learning style, which affects how easily they learn subjects. 

The main types of learning styles include:

  • Visual – If you’re a visual learner, you learn better from pictures, diagrams, charts and other visual elements. 
  • Auditory – This type of learning style benefits more from audio material, such as listening to talks, podcasts, music and others.
  • Reading/writing – Some people learn best simply from reading or writing things down. 
  • Kinesthetic – Others are more focused on hands-on experiences and learn better by doing. 

If you’re a visual learner, try to take notes that look more visually appealing. Use mind maps, lots of different colours, flowcharts and diagrams to explain concepts you’ve learned in lessons. You should be able to see all the information at a glance.

For auditory learners, recording lectures or using voice notes where you explain concepts is helpful. Instead of writing notes, you could record notes and play them back later. Additionally, you may benefit from finding podcasts that talk about the subject you’re studying.

Reading and writing is perhaps the easiest way to learn, as it’s heavily catered for. It’s easy to find books, written guides and information on most subjects. You can focus on note-taking and getting all the information you’ve learned written down to ensure you memorise the information. 

Taking notes as a kinesthetic learner is a little more challenging. Of course, you learn better from practical experience. However, that doesn’t mean that notes aren’t useful. You should try to focus on making notes of the practical applications of your subject, as well as writing guides on procedures and processes you need to follow. 

Don’t Spend too Long on Your Notes

When you’re taking notes and studying, it’s important not to focus on them too much. Our brains can only take in so much information at once, and trying to cram is never an effective strategy. Excessive studying can increase stress, which makes learning even more difficult. To avoid this, make sure you give yourself regular breaks.

A lot of people prefer to use the Pomodoro technique when studying. This is where you focus on your work for 25 minutes at a time, with five-minute breaks in between. You can complete several blocks before taking a longer break, ensuring your mind stays refreshed. When on your break, make sure you get up, move about, and preferably get outside too. All of this can help boost your brain activity.

Read Your Notes Soon After Taking Them

Writing notes definitely helps to improve your retention of knowledge you learn in lectures. However, you can increase that further by reading your notes regularly. If you want to really boost your studying potential, make sure you read your notes soon after taking them.

When you get home from your lectures, even if you’re tired after a busy day, be sure to go over all of your notes. Spending just 15 minutes to half an hour reading your notes before you go to bed is a great way to keep the information fresh in your mind and ensure it becomes part of your long-term memory. This way, you’ll be able to connect the notes to the lecture far more easily, even if your notes themselves don’t provide all the details. 

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