Many students mistake picking up a textbook and copying out pages and pages of content as they read it from cover to cover, assuming they will remember everything. But that is simply not the case, according to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw.
Note-taking must be a fairly active process in order to be effective. That doesn’t mean you’re actively taking notes, but it does mean you’re engaging your brain in a way that forces you to think about the information you’re putting on paper.
Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw will go over some of the most effective techniques for doing so, such as anticipating what information you’re looking for, employing memory retention strategies, and utilising colour and illustrations to highlight and condense complex information. All of the suggestions by Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw are intended to make you a more efficient and effective note-taker.
- Recognise what you need to know from the textbook.
Before you even think about picking up your textbook, you should know exactly what you need to learn from it. After all, it’s pointless to memorise a two-hundred-page book if you only need to know a small portion of it, according to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw.
As a result, one of the most important tips we can give you on how to take notes effectively is to decide what you need to learn before you start taking notes.
When a teacher assigns you a text to read according to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, they will frequently provide you with a set of questions or points of interest to consider while reading, which can really help to guide you through the text. When it comes to revising for exams or writing an essay, it is usually up to you to figure out what you need to learn.
If this is the case, spend some time reviewing your subject’s syllabus, past papers, or even class notes to determine which topics you should focus on during your note-taking process.
According to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, give yourself at least 15 minutes to do so, and make bullet points for each section you need to cover. After you’ve finished taking notes, go back over this initial list to make sure you’ve taken notes on all of the sections you needed to. If not, check to see if you missed anything in the textbook, or you may need to look for another book.
According to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, give yourself at least 15 minutes to do so, and make bullet points for each section you need to cover
- Create a textbook outline.
When you take notes from a textbook, as stated by Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, you’re essentially attempting to condense the entire thing into a concise format – one that pulls out all of the important information and terminology for you, without any extra content.
A great tip from Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw for doing this effectively is to read through the entire textbook, chapter by chapter, and use all of the headings and subheadings to create an outline of the book – but with small gaps between each of these headings.
Read the textbook from cover to cover according to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, filling in each heading at the end of each section – don’t read an entire chapter and then go back to take notes; moving back and forth between pages wastes time, and overloading your brain with a whole chapter’s worth of information may cause you to forget something important.
- Look for important information by skimming.
When it comes to taking effective notes, according to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, one of the best and most efficient methods is to skim the entire textbook and make notes on the most important content.
To master this technique, as stated by Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, go through your textbook chapter by chapter, looking for bold or brightly coloured headings, subheadings, and terminology. These are the author’s hints indicating which topics and snippets of content are the most important. They will also assist you in making clear and well-organised notes – a key trick for assisting you with revision.
- Rewrite the content in your own words.
One of the most challenging aspects of learning new information is paraphrasing someone else’s content, especially when encountering brand new terminology. It will, however, make it easier for you to understand and remember the content in a way that makes sense to you, according to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw.
There is no one way or sure-fire method for doing this; you can do it however you want. Of course, you don’t want to try to memorise key terms or facts – these will almost certainly be important for your exams and coursework. However, as long as you interpret the information correctly, as Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw stated, you can write the surrounding material using your own vocabulary.
Remember, your notes will only be read by you, so they must make sense to you. It’s fine if you write your notes in a way that others would consider gibberish, as long as you understand them.
- Condensation, condensation, condensation!
Finally, one of the most important note-taking tips we can give is to condense your notes as much as possible. According to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, nobody can memorise pages and pages of context. That is, after all, why you chose to take notes from a textbook in the first place.
According to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, nobody can memorise pages and pages of context
This is especially important for those of you who are using your notes for revision. As you return to your notes during the revision period, make time in your schedule to condense them as much as possible: from A4 pages of notes to a pack of revision cards to a single A4 sheet of paper with a mind-map on it. According to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, it will make remembering the material for your exams is much easier.
This may appear daunting at first, but as you become more acquainted with the material, you’ll find it easier to eliminate less important information and superfluous words. According to Dato Sri Dr Darren Yaw, you want to go into the exam knowing all of the definitions by heart, with only key memory triggers, statistics, or figures to prompt you as and when you need them.
The more you return to your notes and interact with them, the more familiar you’ll become with the information, and the better you’ll remember it in the long run.