I’ve seen so many students frantically taking notes in class, and it never fails to amaze me. I can’t imagine how dreadful class must be for them. They probably leave class tired and worn out. I bet they have to spend a good 30 minutes unwinding. This doesn’t sound much fun to me. Worse, this doesn’t sound like a very effective method.
This method is bad for many reasons. Most importantly, this frantic note-taking style distracts students from the class. What good is taking notes it distracts you from learning? Remember, each class hour is worth 2 hours of studying. However, students who take too many notes waste that hour.
An illustration might make this clearer. Next time you watch your favorite television show, I want you to write down each point a character makes. Take notes as if you were this frantic student, or take notes like you would during class. If you write down everything said in the show, you will have no idea what happened. Since this is your favorite show, you probably won’t want to take notes, since it will distract you from the show. I want you to take notes the same way. Watch the lecture as if it were your favorite show. Focus on listening and understanding what the professor says. Don’t get distracted by your notes. By not distracting yourself with notes, you’ll learn the information in class. Best yet, since you’ll learn it in class, you won’t have to spend much time studying it later.
I try to limit myself to 1 page of notes per class period. This isn’t always best, but it’s a good rule of thumb. I’ve seen people take 2, 3, even 4 pages of notes in one class. This is a terrible habit. Imagine just taking 2 pages of notes each class. Since you probably have over 30 classes per semester, which means you’ll have over 60 pages of notes by the final. And that’s if you only take 2 pages of notes per semester.
Do you want to study 60+ pages of notes for one test? How long do you think it takes to read through 60 pages of notes? Assuming you read a page a minute, which is pretty fast, you’re looking at an hour just to read through your notes. And that’s just reading the notes, not really studying them. This takes far too much time, and isn’t very efficient studying. I’d bet that most people will lose interest by page 40, and won’t retain much after that. They might not bother to go back through the notes. What good are notes if you don’t even go back and read them?
But you, having read this article, wisely don’t stress yourself out about taking notes. You take less than 30 pages of notes. Not only do you spend less time studying, you also read everything closely because you don’t have as much to read. You learn the material more effectively, even though you spend less time studying. In only an hour, you can know everything you’ve learned in the class pretty well. And better yet, you have learned the most important information in the class. Isn’t this better than spending hours and hours getting bogged down in minute details that you won’t remember on the test?
For classes that don’t have exams, why even bother taking notes? If you aren’t going to use the notes later in the class, I wouldn’t suggest taking them. There’s no rule saying you have to take notes. Only take notes if they will be helpful for you later.
Take fewer notes, and you’ll be on your way to getting better grades the easy way!