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The Missouri Miner

Missouri S&T's Student Newspaper
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EST. 1915

Miner Advice & Major Results: How to Take Effective Notes

Many students have all experienced a similar scenario; they find themselves sitting in a class for fifty minutes or more listening to their professor lecture on new information that they will eventually be tested over. Clearly, the information being taught is important for understanding the class, so it is no surprise that students spend this class time multitasking between listening to the lecture and taking notes. However, it seems while some students take notes during class, it is fairly common for them to not truly utilize these notes after their class is over. Notes are a useful tool that can be extremely beneficial when it comes to studying for an exam, but the main reason that college students do not take complete advantage of this resource is because most students are not taking effective notes. This advice article will use personal experience, as well as tips and tricks from other Missouri S&T students to explore ways for all students to take more effective notes that they can use outside of the classroom.

Whenever someone is setting a goal, trying to actually reach that goal may seem daunting. That is why the easiest way to achieve personal goals is to break them down into extremely simple sub goals. This allows the person to consistently feel a sense of accomplishment each time they complete one of the smaller goals, making it easier to eventually reach the overall desired outcome. Following this method, one of the first steps to taking effective notes is to physically go to class. This may sound trivial to some people; however, it is obvious to most that those 8 AM classes can be a real struggle. It can be tempting for students to convince themselves to sleep in and tell themselves they will go through the online notes later. However, speaking from personal experience, it is rare that people actually find the motivation to do this. Also, physically going to class has the added benefit of more in depth explanations than uploaded slides can provide.

Another way college students can improve the quality of their notes is by writing them down before class. While in class, it can be a struggle to write down what is on the board as well as listen to what the professor is explaining and take notes on their commentary. This requires the ability to multitask, and anyone who has taken a psychology class knows that multitasking is a myth. When students take notes before class, it allows them to completely focus on what the professor is saying and helps create a better understanding of the material. If the professor does not post lecture slides before class, it can be beneficial to read the textbook chapter before class and take notes on that content instead. Taking notes before class also prevents the individual from rushing, causing the notes to be neater and easier to navigate later on.

One small way to improve the effectiveness of notes is to write them rather than type them. While typing may seem faster for some people and allows them to take notes while also having the slides pulled up in front of them, physically writing down notes is the first step to committing the content to memory. Along with this, it is also beneficial to take time after each lecture to rewrite the notes taken in that class. This is one way to make notes more organized, while also taking advantage of muscle memory and gradually memorizing material. While any of these tips are sure to make one’s notes more advantageous, combining them is sure to make the idea of note-taking more worthwhile.


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