Step 1: Grab a pen and paper. Instead of reading passively, jot down the key points as you read. This will help condense what the information, while the repetition of writing ideas out after reading them will help your brain to grab onto the important information. Write your name, the subject, and date on your page to further help with organizing your notes.
Step 2: Use headings/subheadings/bolded words. Writing the main topic of each section will help keep your notes organized and will allow you to refer back and find information quickly and easily.
Step 3: Summarize. Underneath each topic heading, condense what you have read so that you are left with only the most important information. Use bullet points or lists, and be brief. You do not want to rewrite an entire chapter, but rather want to find and learn the most valuable material.
Step 4: Paraphrase. Writing out what you have read in a textbook word for word will go one step towards learning the material, but to truly understand what you are reading, write the information in your own words. This will ensure you understand what you are reading, and not simply copying things into your study notes that you do not ‘get’ in the first place.
Step 5: Develop a system that works for you. Use highlighting, underlining, colour coding, or sketching as necessary to make your notes make the most sense to you. It’s not about whether they look pretty, it’s about you learning the material in the way that suits you best!
Remember, like everything, creating study notes takes practice! At first you may find that you have difficulty putting things in your own words, or picking out the most important information. Don’t worry! As you make a habit of writing out information, your study notes will become more condensed and easy to create.
Oxford Learning provides supplemental education services across North America. It offers programs for young people from preschool through university, and its cognitive approach goes beyond tutoring to ignite a lifelong love of learning. Find out more at http://www.OxfordLearning.