How To Organize Your Notes in a Way That Makes Sense
Declutter your brain and bring all those scraps of notes together! Thorough, understandable notes are crucial to success in school; if you take good notes now, you’ll be grateful when exams start. Learn how to organize your notes in a way that makes sense to you—your favorite method may look different from those of your classmates, but it’ll get you pointed in the right direction.
Pick a Spot
Where are your notes going to live? Find and designate a home for them. Many students have separate notebooks or binders for each subject; it’s an ultra-basic way to keep chemistry separate from literature. Using custom notepads is also a good idea. If you’re on your laptop, create a new folder for each subject. Once you’ve found a home for the notes in question, whether it’s in a notebook or on your laptop, “furnish” that home with more organizational tools.
Get All the Info
Even if you don’t think you’ll need all the information your teacher or lecturer gives you, you never know what will appear on the exam. Many students have taken to recording their lectures so they can go back and take more detailed notes. An audio recording device is an invaluable tool for avid notetakers. Plus, if you know you’re going to be absent one day, you can lend the device to a classmate to record the lecture for you.
If you do your own research or experiments, write down every step of your process in your research notebook as if you’re teaching others your method.
Write in Order
Get into the habit of titling and dating all of your notetaking sessions. Put that information in the same spot on every page. For example, include it in the top left or right corner of a notebook page or a header on a Word document. Chronological notes will save your life during exam season! Your teacher or lecturer may tell you which lessons will appear on the exam, and if you have titled and dated notes for each one, studying will be much easier.
Organize Each Page
After you’ve put a title and date on your page or document, set up the page in a way that will help you remember the information. For example, outline formats (A, B, C, et cetera) work well when you have overarching concepts with lots of details. Charts and grids might help you sort information into categories you understand. However you arrange the information on the page, leave some space between sections or in margins in case you need to fill in details later.
Shake all that excess chatter out of your head as you open your notebook or laptop before class. You don’t need to scribble at the speed of light to take thorough, effective notes. Follow these tips and put together a method to organize your notes in a way that makes sense to you, and your grades will thank you down the line.