How to take better notes (and study more efficiently)

Updated: Oct 4

Last month we posted on our Youtube channel a video about “How to take notes”.

This is a great opportunity to talk about some strategies and systems to summarise study materials and improve your performance.

In order to better organise your notes, it’s crucial to develop a good note-taking routine.

The techniques we are presenting will help you categorise information better and retain it in your long-term memory.

1. Use bullet points. The way this works is simple: write a bullet point and in front of it add the information regarding that specific topic. When you change topics, write a new bullet point. This helps you clearly distinguish between different information. Bullet points are also very versatile, you don’t need to always write a point, you can use different symbols to indicate different ideas.

For example, using stars to indicating the main topics and a dash to indicate more specific topics within the main one.

2. Forget about grammar for a moment. There are concepts which can’t be summarised with only one word so you have to write longer explanations. When that’s the case, words like “the” or “because” can be omitted in order to save time. Instead, use quick symbols that represent different words.

For example, use a small arrow between sentences to substitute the word “and so”: “Cat eats —> sleeps —> eats —> sleeps”

3. Don't be afraid to use colours. The usage of highlighters and markers can be useful to highlight the key points. This way when you’re reading your notes it’s easier to locate where and what the main ideas are. Don’t forget to create a colour-coding chart in order to keep everything more organised and clean.

For example, titles are in pink, main ideas in yellow, dates in green and so on.

4. Use tables and diagrams to your advantage. If you have a lot of important information that you need to remember, try to organise it into tables or diagrams. These are usually better to retain the information especially if you’re a visual learner. It can also help with labelling concepts and definitions.

For example, creating a whole diagram just to explain each of the four cases in German.

5. Work smarter, not harder. When you take notes from a textbook or another source, write down only information that will be useful. Don’t make copies of the textbook, synthesise it and be selective. This will save you a lot of time, especially if you have limited time to study or a lot of materials to cover.

So what now?

Let rip and feel free to treat the comments section as a community journal by connecting with fellow language learners down below.

Let us know which tip was your favourite along with any other thoughts you might have on this topic!



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