A lot of students at Pepperdine University say that when they get ready to study for midterms they usually find that they are dissatisfied with the notes that they have to work with. The problem is that most students don’t use their notes when they have to study for midterms. In order to take better notes, you need to have an idea of what will be helpful for you when you go back and read them. You need to really feel like you understand why they’re important. Here are 5 note-taking strategies for college midterms.
If you really want to be able to increase the amount of information that you can physically write, then you have to create your own version of shorthand. This means that you want to abbreviate words, use acronyms, draw symbols, whatever you need to do to get to the point more quickly and move on. Most importantly, keep a legend so that you can easily translate your shorthand after class.
Whenever you are taking notes you want to label your paper with the date, chapter, and subject of the notes. This should all be written at the top and preferably in all caps, or some other way of making it bigger or more distinguished. When you go to study for midterms you will be looking for these headings as you flip through pages of notes. If you are drawing diagrams or copying quotes, always make note of which page they came from to put everything in context.
You also want to try to take your notes with a few different colored pens. You can make your headings one color, write down key terms or ideas in a different color, and be sure to highlight all the parts that are extremely salient. Psychologically, the different colors will help your brain to separate all of those ideas into more clear and concise pieces of information, and the whole thing is much easier to digest.
Whenever you finish a chapter or unit in one of your classes, you want to summarize the point of the whole thing in a page or less. You want to go from beginning to end and just simplify the ideas to the best of your ability. If you can summarize everything within the space of a page or less, then it’s a pretty good sign that you really get the gist of the whole thing.
Whenever you take notes, you should do it with the intention of sharing the notes with someone else. Then you actually do want to find a study buddy or study group to meet with before midterms and you can all share your notes together. They need to be neat and concise enough for you to explain them to someone else, and they should to be a source of help rather than confusion. If you write them that way, then whether or not you end up sharing them, you will get a lot more out of them. Your friends don’t have to be able to read your shorthand, just so long as you can explain it all, it will make a big difference.