Keep it Organised
I think the MOST important aspect of your note taking, is the practice of keeping it organised. If you don’t know where to find a certain collection of lecture notes, if it’s a challenge to search out a particular topic, or if you’re missing notes here and there, then your note taking method is failing you!
I suggest keeping everything in its own folder or book (electronic or physical), with labels and even a colour code system – I understand the colour coding part may seem a little OTT for some, but colour coded notes are a game changer, trust me! Another very helpful tip for organised notes is to maintain an index for each module. This way, when it comes to revision or assignment writing, you’re able to easily and quickly find the topic you need.
Keeping everything readily to hand in these ways will make life much easier further down the line and ensure you are maximising the use of your notes. For years I went through lectures writing streams of notes and slotted them into a badly organised folder, which I rarely looked back at. Don’t make that mistake, trust me! It’s a massive waste of time, re-reading and note taking for assignments and revision – keep organised notes and let them work for you!
Get the Most out of Every Lecture
An invaluable task to do before each lecture, is to take a look at the content which will be covered. This will stand you in good stead for the session and enable deeper learning to occur, building on your existing knowledge. There are a few ways in which you can do this:
- First of all, if your tutor uploads the slides prior to your lecture, you can have a read through and prepare yourself of what to expect in the session.
- You could even make notes on the content provided, allowing you to focus on what extra is discussed within the lecture. This is perfect for those of you who like to write everything down, but don’t want to miss any vital information – like me!
- Finally, by looking over your module content plan, you should be able to get an idea of what will be covered each week. With your recommended reading and independent research, you could ready around the weekly topic before attending the lecture – I must advise though, to contact your tutor to double check the weekly topic you’re up to, as often the content plan may not be correct and changes may have been made.
To supplement your note taking and to avoid missing information, you could consider asking your tutor for permission to audio record the lecture. This method is fool proof, as you can be sure to not miss anything and it’s extremely easy to recap at a later date. There are a number of apps available for audio note recording, but I used AudioNote 2 App.
No Stone Left Unturned
There really are NO STUPID QUESTIONS! No matter how clueless you may feel and how embarrassed you may be to ask a ‘somewhat simple’ questions – ask it anyway! This is your education and rest assure, you’re paying enough it, so I suggest you make the most of every learning opportunity you get.
Whilst at University, you’re expected to do an unrealistic among of independent work and further research haha! A useful tactic which I’ve found, is keeping a note of the topics that require further reading. Whether it’s a topic you’re unsure about, or just another book to add to your list. Jot it down on a sticky note, or in among your lecture notes highlighted with you guessed it, another colour code – and you’ll most definitely not be missing out.
Read, read, read aaaand….. Read some more
Make a note of every book, article and journal off the reading list and get access to it NOW rather than later. You need to know, where to find it and how to access it, as well as the dreaded will you need to PAY for it or does it just require a password to grant you access. Most universities will have access to a number of online journals and library resources, so before you shell out your entire student loan on books, check for free institutional access first.
We’re all told this and the majority of us don’t listen, let’s be honest. But really, make a start on your reading list as early as possible. Break it down into do-able sections and avoid overwhelming yourself with it all at once! This will encourage you to read little and often, without putting it all off until the end of the semester.
Model Student Vibes
Now, if you haven’t already got enough to do, it’s always advised that you extend your research further than the recommended reading list. Sounds horrendous I know, but it’s extremely useful especially when writing assignments. After all, the top marks don’t lie in the recommended reading, do they? We’re always expected to do more with all the free time that we have…… I wish! One thing to remember however with finding your own reading resources, is referencing! Keep a note of every reference you find, whether you use it or not, it may come in handy for a future assignment and I’m sure we can all agree, finding a good journal article is pure gold!
Don’t be a copycat – avoiding plagiarism like the plague!
With so much to read and take note of, it can be very easy to lose track of what is your writing and what was written by someone else – or is that just me going delusional with deadlines stress?! Regardless, I like to put all my direct reading notes in a bright colour, keeping all my own writing black. This way, I can be 100% sure that my research is in my own words and not direct quotes.
To sum up this mammoth student blog post, the ‘not so secret’ trick is to keep note of EVERYTHING; lectures, research and reading. Keeping a record of everything you do and storing it in an organised system which works for you, will allow you to re-visit your notes and jog your memory at the drop of a hat. This will ultimately help with revision at a later date, aid retention of information and also make writing assignments far easier! I think that’s pretty much the gist of it.
I really hope that my rambling has been of use to at least one of you and I wish you all the best for your studies. I know for a lot of students, this time of year is very stressful, with assignment deadlines looming and exam stress ruining the enjoyment of Christmas – so just hang in there and keep powering through, you’ve got this!
Thank you so much for reading and for your continued support. Please don’t forget to give this post a like if you found it useful and subscribe to not miss any future uploads. I have lots of fun and different content coming for blogmas this year, so 100% stay tuned for that.
Thanks again 😊 x
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