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5 Note-taking methods to improve your revision

Note taking
Are you looking for a note-taking method that suits your learning style? Do you want to change the way you take notes? This article presents five different, but equally useful, note-taking methods that will change your approach to studying!

The Cornell Method

The Cornell method is a system of note taking, organisation and revision. In this method, you divide your paper into two columns with one row at the bottom. It requires minimal preparation, which makes it perfect for taking notes in class.

The layout of this method is its main strength. Write the subject name, date and topic at the top of the page. Then divide your page into two columns. The question column is on the left and should be about 7 cm wide. Your subheadings should all be written as questions and placed in this column. Then, write your notes as usual in the largest column on the right - this is the note-taking column.

This method allows you to take notes quickly as it discourages the use of long sentences. Instead, it encourages short notes that you write in the right-hand column using recognisable abbreviations and symbols.

The use of questions and short notes make revision easier as your notes are set out in an easy-to-understand format.

The box method

The note-taking technique known as the 'box method' uses boxes to visually divide topics. Firstly, you need to divide the page into two columns. Then, you should add headers to the columns (these could be the different topics) and then write your notes underneath. Once you’ve written your notes, draw a box around the section. Then, repeat this process to create a page with all different sized boxes that contain all of the core information.

The box method is versatile and easy to use. The end result is a page with all different sized boxes but they are neatly organised into the core topics so you can easily follow the information when revising!

This method is great for learning languages, especially verbs and tenses!

The outline method

This method of note-taking is one of the most basic but effective. Students build up a complete profile of the topic by outlining the course material in an organised and logical way.

In other words, the outline method is effective when the following key elements are present:
  • The main topics of the document are listed on the left-hand side, followed by the subtopics which are indented to the right of the main topics.
  • Any additional information is incorporated with another indentation to the right of the subtopics
  • Supplementary information is included with an additional indentation

The mapping method

The mapping method is another popular and regularly used note-taking technique. Using this method, you can organise and visualise your knowledge by using mind maps. To make your maps even more eye-catching and effective, you can also colour them.

There is no set technique for mapping; you can start by placing your main topic at the top, side or centre of the page. The aim is to branch out from there with sub-topics, and then branch out further with other information. As a result, your map may end up looking like a tree. You can create great connections between your ideas, which is a major advantage of this note-taking method.

The charting method

To use the charting method, arrange your notes in a table with clear rows and columns, divided by category. This method is very useful for topics that have many links between concepts and those that are very content-heavy.

It is not only easy to look at and understand, but also visually appealing. However, note-taking takes time, so it is not advisable to do it while attending lectures. To improve your note-taking efficiency, check out this article.

There are other note-taking techniques, such as the sentence method, the slide-writing method and the split-page method but these are the ones that are used most frequently.

You can choose one, two or even three note-taking methods and experiment with them to find the one that suits you best!
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