As taking notes becomes more and more tech-based through solutions like Rocket books and online note taking apps, I have found that the best way to retain my knowledge is through handwritten notes. People may argue that paper notes are more tedious and take up a lot of room, however, I have found many solutions to this problem through organizing my notes so that they always stay clean and help me solidify my knowledge of the subject.
If you are taking APs, honors, or any high school class, it is crucial that you always keep your notes properly organized because you will be referring to them a lot! After taking note-heavy classes like AP US History, here are the ways that I consistently made notes that were organized and efficient for studying:
#1: DO NOT COPY THE TEXTBOOK!
One of the biggest mistakes that I see my peers making is that they take what is written in the textbook and copy it word-for-word into their notes. That leads to you not truly understanding what is being written, but instead mindlessly adding facts to your notes. If you were asked to recall what you wrote in your notes, I guarantee you would not be able to summarize any information. Instead, you should read paragraphs/sections of your textbooks and SUMMARIZE the information in your own words. This will help you retain knowledge and have less notes that are repetitive bouts of information that you do not really understand.
#2: Use highlighters with LOTS caution
Think back to a time that you freely used a highlighter, you highlighted every piece of information that you *thought* was important, and ended up with a big colorful jumble. When you try to dissect the information you highlighted, it looks more like a coloring book than a page of notes. Instead of doing this, try to highlight three-five words or phrases that you feel would be important to recollect and remember. Or, try attaching meaning to what you are highlighting. Maybe green highlight means dates, while yellow highlight means important figures. This will help you not only with organizing your notes, but also compartmentalize and focus on what you are writing about.
#3: Black pen only :)
Studies have shown that black pen is the best baseline color to use for your notes. Using too many colors will make the notes more about the look than the actual information present. Beyond black, you should be using at most two more colors. Personally, I use black pen for my notes, red pen to underline any information worth memorizing, and a highlighter for any key people/dates. Personally, I don't like using blue pen because the color is just not bright enough to stick in my mind. However, everything is different for different people! I simply suggest that you keep your baseline notes color black, and beyond that, any two colors you would like, you can use! The most important aspect is that you are properly able to remember what you are writing.
#4: Prepare for tests as you write the notes
Sometimes, as we write notes, we write them for the aesthetic or use details that are very minute. Then, when we go back to study for the test, we realize that we do not have any important information written that is worth remembering. A way to reduce this from happening is writing notes as if your test is tomorrow. Think to yourself: What are the most important dates, people, and events that I need to fully understand. That way, even when you go back to actually prepare, you are using information that you deemed important when first writing the notes. Preparation for tests are the main place that people see how their own notes did not have the substance that it needed, and this is how to combat that!
#5: Use the least amount of extra items when note-taking
I know that we all love using different color tapes, pens, and sticky tabs on our notes, but studies show that they do not help you with your notes. Actually, they take away from the actual understanding and focus that is required on the information to be able to remember what you are writing. So if you do not have all of the cool stationary products that others have, don't feel bad! In fact, sticking to the simple will allow you to use the notes for what they are really needed for: remembering information! However, like I said earlier, if you like using these product, go for it! Just try to always make sure you are getting the most out of your notes.
These are all suggestions for how to make note-taking more efficient, but everyone is different! Just do what you feel is best! If you have any additional suggestions or like these tips, don't forget to DM me @eviespaceblog!