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3 Most Effective Note-Taking Methods to Use in School

School means lessons and lessons mean notes. Pages and pages of notes, question and answers, summaries, and hints have to be jotted down in class. Most children hate taking notes or skip this process and suffer later. When exams arrive, it is the class notes that are the saving grace and help a student pass with commendable marks.

It is obvious that note-taking is an absolute must at school and can never be avoided.

Why is note-taking a must at school?

Note-taking is an absolute must in class because:

  • It helps briefly summarize the lesson.
  • It highlights the important points.
  • The teacher might give extra questions, cues, and tips not available in the textbook, which need to be jotted down immediately in class.
  • The important questions or relevant portions for the answers might be highlighted by the teacher and these have to be noted.
  • Ensures retention of the lesson and facilitates easy recall.
  • Helps gain clarity in the subject and easy understanding of the lesson.
  • Facilitates easy last-minute revision.

3 Most Effective Note-Taking Methods for School

Note-taking is a race against time, as students write slower than their lecturers speak. The more words written down, the longer the time taken. In this case, writing down more words may ironically lead to less overall information being covered (as the student might get hung up on one point and fall behind).

Therefore, an effective system is one where students get maximum information on the topic from the least amount of words noted down.

So having established without doubt that note-taking is essential for good academic performance, and the necessity for a quality notes system, let us move on to the various methods of note-taking.

I.  Outline Method

Also called the Linear Method, this is the most commonly used method. It is probably the one your child uses as well. The Outline Method is popular because it covers all facts in the lesson and marks them specifically as points.

How to use the Outline Method?

1. In the outline method, write down information as it is received. Rather straightforward.

2. Start the lesson with the main heading.

3. Write subheadings for each section and make bullet points under each as required. The subpoints are indented to the right. Points under that are indented even more, etc.

4. Expand on the bullet points if necessary with relevant information.

5. Continue this until the end of the lesson.

Advantages of Outline Method

1. This method is thorough and exhaustive.

2. All points are covered.

3. The lesson is neatly structured and divided into sections

4. Each section is dealt with individually, in detail

5. It is easy to form questions for each section.

II. Cornell Method

The Cornell Method of Note-Taking (also known as Cornell Notes or the Cornell System) is an excellent method of note-taking that requires a little preparation but achieves great results with regular practice.

The main objective of note-taking in class is to provide comprehension and clarity to the lesson. This is possible only if the lesson is dissected into various sections or structured in an organized manner. this is what the Cornell Method does.

How to use the Cornell Method?

Here is how the Cornell Method works.

1. Divide the page into 3 sections-the margin section, the notes section, and the summary section.

2. First, divide the page into 2 halves horizontally- the top three-quarters of the page is for notes and margins while the bottom quarter is for the summary. Now, divide the top portion of the page into 2 vertically- a small 2″ for the margin (recall column) and the rest of the 6″ on the right (notes column).

3. The notes column is for jotting down notes during class. The margins (cue column/recall column) are for highlighting the important points or write cues and pointers.

4. The summary section at the bottom can give a brief summary of the lesson for easy review. Here is a visual representation of Cornell notes:

Advantages of the Cornell Method

1. Since the lesson is segmented into notes, cues, and summary, the reader gains a lot of clarity on the topic.

2. Important points are easily identified.

3. It is easy to review and revise the lesson. Just cover up the right side and see how much information you can recall about the keywords on the left.

III.   Map Method

For learners who prefer visual depiction of the lesson for easy understanding, the mapping method is the best. This method represents the topic visually and outlines the flow of the lesson. Each segment of the lesson is mapped to the next and this correlation helps students to remember the lesson easily.

How to use the Map Method?

1. Start with the main topic of the lesson.

2. From this, branch out to other topics by writing headings for them.

3. Under each heading, write notes.

4. From this branch, again form sub-branches.

5. Continue this until the end of the lesson.

Advantages of the Map Method

1. This works best for visual learners. A complex topic is turned into one image, which is easier to remember.

2. Pictorial representation makes understanding of the lesson simpler and easier.

3. Continuity of the topics in the lesson is maintained, and this helps in the easy recall.

Improved Notes for Improved Learning

Those are the three most effective note-taking methods that students can use in school.

Remember, each method has its disadvantages too. The Outline Method requires much more writing to be performed. With the Cornell Method, there are more restrictions and there needs to be intense concentration in class than with the other methods. The Map Method might be hard to implement during class while listening to the teacher and is better-suited for post-lesson summarization of the material in visual form. All these methods also need the lesson itself to be presented in a methodical format instead of jumping back and forth.

Whichever method your child chooses to adopt, make sure they write notes easily and legibly. Use markers or highlighters to make the important points stand out.

It is also worth noting that these methods work best for theory-heavy subjects like History, Biology, Civics, Literature, etc. However, they can also be modified for practical subjects like Maths and Physics. Although for these, another method such as the Charting Method may be more appropriate.

Reach out to expert practice-learning sites like LetsPractise that teach novel methods for easy exam preparation and study. We have practice papers, mock tests, and worksheets for all the subjects mentioned in this blog post and more.

Our learning plans are applicable for students of all boards (IGCSE, State Board, CBSE, ICSE, etc.) from 1st to 10th. Feel free to contact our team for more.

Practice these methods of note-taking regularly to form a habit and this will yield success for exam preparation and revision.

Remember, practice brings not only perfection but perks too. Good luck!

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