By Rafael Robledo

It’s past the halfway mark for the semester, and some of us may not be feeling comfortable with our note taking strategies. I will be presenting three different note taking strategies and some of my personal strategies that help me out, to help you to understand the influx of information that each class hits us with. 

One of the strategies that is very common for taking notes are Cornell notes. The main concept of this strategy is to divide your paper into three sections. The left hand side is referred as the cues square. This section is for adding the main points or headings for your notes in addition to questions that you might have during the lecture. The second section is the right hand side which is where you would write your notes. The third section is the summary section which is used for summarizing the notes that you took into 1 or 2 sentences. This strategy is good since it makes you reflect on the notes that you took during that lecture. This is nice you are able to figure out what you don’t understand and leaves room for going back and answering the questions from the lecture. 

Example of Cornell Notes

Another strategy is Outline notes. This strategy is helpful with organizing your notes from headings to subheadings to examples, explanations and notes. This style does require some preparation beforehand if you are going to use them for lecture notes. If the professor posts the power point before lecture, this is nice since you can prep and have good organized and concise notes after the lecture. This makes finding key concepts easier since the information is easy to manage. Additionally, this style of notes is good if you are going all digital. 

Example of Outline Notes

The third style of notes is called Mind Map. If you picture a brainstorm which we used back then, it’s very similar to it. You write the subject and or main topic in the center and then you would write the subtopics branching off and from there you would write the notes, examples and definitions for that subtopic. This style of notes is good for visual learners but it also requires some prep beforehand like the outline notes. This set of notes is good for organization, helps connect key concepts with the topics and make the information easier to comprehend. 

Example of Mind Maps Notes

Some of the notes that I like to personally use are the outline notes and the one sentence strategy.

The outline notes which I use, are called synthesis notes. This style of notes is best used for reading books and rewriting notes to make them more organized. They are called synthesis notes since you would read one paragraph of the book and summarize it into one sentence and write that down. This helps condense the chapter or section of the book into a few sentences rather than big paragraphs. The style is the same as the outline the only difference is that you are writing one sentence for every paragraph or rewriting your previous notes into a sentence that explains the concept or key point much better using simpler language. 

Example of Synthesis Notes from my History class

The one sentence strategy is simple and probably the one you are using right now. For this style of notes, I use it for big lecture classes such as chemistry and math. This is because I write down what the professor puts on the whiteboard and/or the power point. This helps out with writing mostly everything that the professor puts up on the board but it lacks in actually understanding most of the concept of the lecture. That is why I use this style with the “synthesis notes” since I like to go back and reorganize my notes. 

How I use the Synthesis note method for my Math class

Hopefully these different strategies help you out with your note taking skills. Maybe you could create your own style with mixing some of these strategies to increase the understanding of the material. We are almost done with the semester so keep your head up and pay attention to the professor for taking notes.