Taking notes during class is simple enough for most college students. Of course, there is always that handful of students who stare at a blank notebook for the entire class meeting, but the real problem with taking notes for most people exists in another setting. Most courses don’t explicitly require students to take notes from their textbooks, but many students end up failing courses when they don’t do exactly that. For the poor performing student, note-taking doesn’t seem that important, but it is the exact reason they end up failing. Note taking doesn’t have to be that difficult, however; there are plenty of ways to take great notes in only a small amount of time.
First of all, notes are meant to be a short-handed summary of material, so there should only be about a page worth of notes per 5-6 pages of material. Therefore, a chapter with 30 or so pages would need only 5-6 pages worth of notes. The best notes are also the shortest – it’s best to grasp general concepts and take note of them rather than writing down every little fact and statistic. Also, it’s smart to only take notes on things that one isn’t familiar with. The only time that notes should be complicated and drawn out is when the professor is a stickler for facts and statistics, but most are not. Quick and simple, that’s how notes should be.
It isn’t a smart idea to take notes after reading the entire source material because this just adds time onto the process. Honestly, it’s quite simple to take notes as you go by reading a small section at a time and summarizing the information. Most textbooks make this method extremely simple. Another method that works is going paragraph by paragraph and summarizing the material. Of course, these methods might end up being the same thing, but it takes up too much time to read an entire chapter of material and go back a second time in order to take down notes.
In the end, taking notes should just be a simple, short process. Notes should be extremely general, already known material should be omitted, and the notes themselves should fairly short. Anyone who takes 4 or 5 hours to take notes on a textbook chapter is working way too hard and are only hurting themselves by wasting time. At the most, notes should take an hour or two, but many people can breeze through them efficiently in less than an hour. Of course, subject matter may change the way in which notes should be taken. Notes should be simple and concise for the most part.