Need help to remember what you’ve studied? How to make notes that really work
While you’re writing, you’re also thinking about what you are writing, which helps your mind engage more actively with the information and thus store it better.education Updated: Oct 18, 2017 10:34 IST
The 2017 exam season is here and we are sure you would be gearing up for your tests. Notes can go a long way in making your revise more effectively. Abhishek Patil, CEO and co-founder of Oliveboard , an online preparation portal for MBA, banking and government exams, tells you how to do it right.
The syllabus to be covered for all competitive exams is vast and especially so when you’re talking about the UPSC CSE. It’s important to remember that the whole process can be simplified through notes.
The first step is to understand the purpose of making notes. So, ask:
Why should we make notes?
•Understanding a topic is the easy part, remembering is difficult. Hence it is important to make notes of important topics so that you can glance through whenever you want to revise. Well-made notes save you the trouble of revisiting the voluminous study material.
•Writing down points helps you to remember things in a better way. Note that while you’re writing, you’re also thinking about what you are writing, which helps your mind engage more actively with the information and thus store it better.
So now that we have understood the ‘why’, let’s address the elephant in the room and talk about the ‘how’.
How to make notes?
Here are some interesting note-making techniques
1. Linear notes
Through the linear notes method you condense the material you have read using headings and subheadings. This is the best method for making notes while reading a book, newspaper or a magazine.
Avoid getting carried away and copying a lot of material.
A good way is to keep loose sheets of paper handy and to jot down important points about a given topic. One can use colours, block letters, boxes, and highlighters to immediately draw your attention to the critical points and would aid in a quick recall.
2. Pattern notes
In this method, one writes the main idea at the centre of the page and each line radiating from it represents a branch of that idea. Each point is written as briefly as possible. (Think of flowcharts and mind maps.)
An advantage of this type of note making is that one can see the entire information without turning pages. It helps one establish links between various thoughts more easily.
Since these notes are in a diagrammatic format as against the textual one, it is much easier to remember the content of the notes.
The disadvantage is missing out on information. Using keywords can remind of basic ideas but when it comes to remembering details it is not of much help.
Thus, a good set of notes is a combination of these two techniques chosen with respect to the kind of material that is being converted into notes.
A good set of notes will always have the following:-
•Topic outline, key points, advantages and disadvantages and finally the conclusion
•Well labelled diagrams, tables, graphs or sketch maps wherever necessary
Some general tips on note-making
•Use loose sheets as they help in organising and adding content later.
•Also, make sure that you include information in points and not write long paragraphs. That would defeat the purpose of making notes. The idea is to keep it crisp, concise and focussed on the main idea.
•Try to use different coloured pens for headings, sub-headings etc.
•Maintain separate folders/files for each subject. You could also use stick notes to demarcate one section from the other.
•Keep revising the notes or just glance through the important points every once in a while.