When you arrive at college, finding a method of taking notes that works for you might take some time. While taking well-written notes for each class seems like a daunting and tedious task, it doesn’t have to be. Here are 10 tips to take the best notes at GWU:

1. Figure out your preference: handwritten versus typed notes

Some professors claim that students better process information when taking handwritten notes. Students, however, sometimes prefer to take notes on a laptop because of bad handwriting, lack of organizational skills, etc. Try not to listen to what anyone says, because finding a method that works for you will matter most.


2. Take notes on outside readings

More often than not, professors will lecture on readings assigned out of class. By keeping up with readings and taking notes on readings outside of class, you will more efficiently process information during class. This will lead to you taking notes more successfully.


3. Know what’s important

You certainly don’t have to write down everything that the professor says. You can even just write down key words that remind you of particular class discussions. During your time in college you will develop a better understanding regarding what you need to write down and what you can leave out from your notes.


4. Try to limit distractions

Taking notes on a laptop or tablet means that you can easily go on Facebook or take Buzzfeed quizzes during class. If you can, resist the temptation to use your laptop out of boredom for something other than notetaking. Even if you’re not interested in class, pay attention. Otherwise, your notes might not make sense to you later on.


5. Ask about information you don’t understand

One issue that students sometimes have when trying to take notes includes writing information down, even if it doesn’t make sense. Definitely ask your professor for clarification when it comes to information that you don’t quite get. If you look back at your notes even just several days later, you’ll face confusion over terms you wrote down but didn’t understand.


6. Use abbreviations

Sometimes, professors speak quickly and you might feel behind writing important information down. Using abbreviations will help you speed up your notetaking and you will have the ability to keep up in class. You can even make up your own abbreviations. Whatever works!


7. Use a highlighter

Important topics will come up in class, but when you look to your notes to study for tests, you forget what topics hold the most importance. Using highlighters when taking notes will help you remember what information your professor absolutely wants you know know for tests and papers.


8. Keep notes for each class separate from each other

If you are taking notes for 5 classes all in the same 1-subject notebook, it might make more sense to invest in a 5-subject notebook. Everyone has their own method when it comes to organizing notes, but keeping notes for each class separate from each other will help you stay organized. This especially holds true when you take classes relating to your major that have similar topics.


9. Forget handwriting (to an extent)

If you’re taking handwritten notes, you don’t need to make your notes look like a work of art. You will want to make sure, however, that you can recognize what you wrote down later on. Try to embrace your messy handwriting so long as you can read what you wrote.


10. Stop worrying so much

Worrying about the quality of your notes as you’re writing them will only make things more difficult for you. Simply try your best, and if you need help, you can reach out to a professor, teaching assistant, tutor … even a friend. Even better, check out the resources that OneClass offers GWU students. Don’t let something as simple as notetaking stress you out.


Hopefully this article helped ease your stress when it comes to notetaking in college. If you’re struggling to take well-written notes, try using these tips to improve your notetaking. If you need more help, do not hesitate use the resources that GWU has to offer.


Becca Paul

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