Learning is a huge part of your university journey. In this article, we will be unpacking our note taking process that we pass on to students that we coach and mentor. We hope you find it useful!
Step 1: Absorb The Basics First
This might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how quickly students find themselves knee deep in textbook terms that are too complex for them at that particular moment in time.
Do not rush when it comes to understanding the basics of your topic. Taking the time to learn the foundations makes the complex stuff significantly easier later on down the line.
Some questions to ask yourself during this process are: If I am explaining this to someone for the first time, what would I want them to know? If I had to summarise this idea in no more than a sentence, what would I say?
If I had to come away from this topic with one key idea, what would it be?
After you feel confident with the basics relating to your studies, you can head on over to step 2.
Step 2: Strengthen The Basics
Just because you may understand a topic in its basic form, does not mean that the basics are ingrained in your memory forever. For something to stay with you long term, it needs to be ran through numerous "routes" for lack of a better term. For example, if you recorded notes relating to a topic on paper, then try and explain this topic to a friend verbally without looking at your notes. If you struggle with this, then you haven’t fully mastered the basics yet! Pinpoint creator Lewis used to know if he was ready for an exam if he could talk about a particular topic for 5 minutes without looking at any notes. Whilst this might not be suited to you, there are other things to try. Mindmaps are great, recording your notes and listening back to them before you sleep is also a really useful strategy! If you change the way in which information is relayed and absorbed, your strengthen that connection and association to that particular topic/concept in the future. So, once you can relay the basics of a topic in a number of different ways, you can then move on to step 3.
Step 3: Get Complex!
Once you have the basics on lock, you can then get more complex. You should find that the basic understanding you have accumulated and strengthened throughout step 1 and 2 makes the complex content relating to your topic a lot more approachable. This is why we dedicate half of our note taking process to getting a firm grasp on the foundations of a topic. Make sure you utilise the same approach to learning the basics to learning the complex stuff though. Learn your complex content in a number of different ways to strengthen how deep your understanding of said content is.
Step 4: Keep Revisiting Your Content
Just because you now understand the basics and the more complex content relating to your content, doesn’t mean you can just leave it and expect it to be there at a later time. In order to keep information in your brain, you have to revisit it regularly. Make sure you are setting aside time to read or absorb the content you have learned over the course of your degree. Not only will this create a much deeper understanding of topics that you cover, it will also significantly improve the prep time of any assessments that relate to the topics you have learned.
Hopefully you have found this introduction to note taking useful! If you like content like this, make sure you are checking out our Instagram for daily tips and tricks relating to your university career.