When you’re an engineering student, notes are everything. It’s the key to making sure you’ve taken down everything you should possibly know. It’s the main component of your review materials to make sure you pass that exam. It’s basically our holy grail.
However, while all of us know how to take down notes, how many of us actually do it properly? Only a small number of people know how to take down notes fast yet efficient, being able to write things down fast while still able to expound on the topic properly. So many of us fall into the whole of just writing down everything our professor says, and more often than not we just end up not understanding our own notes.
So how do you take notes down properly? Well, we’ll give you 6 tips, but first, let’s discuss 2 things that are more important.
One of the biggest debates on note taking is whether or not we should use technology to our advantage and take notes electronically, or stick to the traditional pen and paper. Well, studies have shown that writing things down by hand actually helps our brain remember details better, so while it does boil down to preference, we say to write things manually, if you can.
Another thing is that we should all use our own abbreviations and symbols when taking down notes. More often than not, professors speak too fast, write so much stuff on the board and then immediately erase it, or move from one PowerPoint slide to the next way too soon. To make your life easier, you should create your own system of abbreviations and symbols.
Use abbreviations in place of common words or concepts in your topic. Draw arrows to link one concept to the other. Highlight the most important points with special symbols or by underlining them. Use bullet points to state facts, etc. Use them as much as possible, and it’ll make your life so much easier. Although, don’t forget to make a reference on all the shortcuts you used and what they mean, as what may seem obvious now will get you confused a few months later.
Now that that’s out of the way, here are 8 other tips for better note taking:
1) Don’t write down everything – I mean, I know it’s tempting, but you can only write so fast before the professor moves on to the next concept. Focus on the main points. Write down only the important things. Focus on the “meat” or the main points of these concepts.
2) Write concisely – Notes shouldn’t be written like a dairy. Instead, it should be like a concept map, full of keywords and phrases, long with a short explanation as to what they mean.
3) Be accurate – If you aren’t sure if you heard or wrote down something correctly, add a question mark to it. After class, ask your professor or your fellow classmates if what you wrote was correct, and correct it if otherwise.
4) Create your own system – Again, don’t fuss about writing down correct sentences with perfect grammar and punctuation. Stick to abbreviations, symbols, and other things that help you get the general idea of everything.
5) If you miss a point, don’t overthink it – instead, just leave a blank space for that missed point, and ask your professor or your fellow classmates about it after class.
6) Be organized – Don’t write down all your notes in random places. Make sure the things you write down don’t go everywhere, and keep each set of pages on a single topic.
Hopefully, these’ll help you write down your notes at maximum speed and efficiently, preparing you to pass whatever mathematics related exam you’re bound to take.