Knowing how to take notes is an important part of being a student. Good notes help you to stay on top of what you are learning in class and act as a summary of your textbook and lectures. While notetaking is certainly an essential skill, most students find themselves scribbling down notes in class only to find them unusable when it comes time to study for a big exam. To help you cope during the upcoming school year, here are 4 notetaking skills that will take your study sessions to the next level.

Laying the Groundwork

You’ve undoubtedly heard this advice from your professors, but it will work wonders for your notetaking habits. Doing your assigned readings before you come to class will give you a base understanding of what you will be learning and help you decide what information and themes are important. This will make it easier to include key information in your notes.

Get Organized

Have you ever seen a scribbled-outprescription pad from a doctor and wondered how the pharmacists could understand what was written down? The same goes for your notes! Small, hard to read notes are difficult to understand and won’t do you much good when it comes time to study. Start your notes for each lecture in a new section of your notebook and write the date at the top of the page. Give each section a title describing the main points discussed in the lecture. This will make it easy to go back and find information when you need it. Using colour coordinated sections and highlighting is also a great way to make sure important topics pop out when reading. If you struggle with penmanship, typing your notes on your laptop might be an ideal strategy.

Asking the Important Questions

When taking notes from your textbook, ask yourself questions about the key themes being discussed. Why is this information important? How does it relate to other information discussed in your class? How does it relate to information you’ve learned in other classes? Notetaking should be an active process, almost like a mini lecture.It’s also a good idea to record questions you have about textbook material as you write. This will allow you to keep track of gaps in your understanding and help you to remember what information you need to get from your professor before the exam.

Switch it Up

If your usual notes are leaving something to be desired, try using some a new method of notetaking. Visual notetaking methods such as mind maps and bullet journaling might be just the ticket if you like taking notes that allow you to easily connect ideas and play up your artistic flare. These methods might also be ideal if you’re note a fan of reading huge walls of text. If you’re a traditionalist but still want to shake up your usual approach, try looking up notetaking methods such as the Cornell method. With so many different notetaking styles, you are bound to find one that works for you.