A lot of students struggle when it comes to figuring out a way to take notes in class. I am no exception to the norm. Everyone has different a little different “style” when it comes to taking notes and studying. Most of us want to know, what works best? I am going to rank the top ways to take notes in class! Don’t like the rankings? Tell us about it in the comments section!
1. Microsoft One Note
The is the clear winner in my book! If you have not played around with Microsoft One Note then you need to do so now. One Note allows you to “print” the Power Points to folders which can be organized by course, classes, and sections. After the Power Points are “printed” to the folder you can type notes or write notes (If you have a tablet) anywhere on the document. This program allows you to view your documents with virtually NO load time and search key terms throughout your folders.
It may take slightly longer to get started because you have to have the PowerPoint loaded so you can “print” it to One Note but it makes studying a breeze. Forget something from last semester’s class? Search the term or browse through your old lectures! No need to load 15 Power Points just to see if that is where the correct slide is located.
Now that I have used this for about a year (my first year in dental school) I have found some small disadvantages. I like to make outlines and copy/paste photos from the lectures into the outline. One note will allow you to do so, however, it seems easier to do so from PowerPoint since I can use the crop option which is not present in One Note. Instead, the entire slide is pasted into Word and then the cropping is done from there. Not a big deal but just a small downside. Another downside is if the professor does not post the PowerPoint before the lecture. This can be slightly annoying and happens only every once in a while.
2. Don’t Take Notes at all!
This may sound crazy but not taking notes at all is one of the best ways of taking notes! What did I just say? I am pretty sure that I just said not taking notes is one of the best ways of taking notes! Yep, that’s what I said. How could this be? Easy, when I am frantically typing outlines, things the teacher is saying, or personal revelation about the lecture, I am missing the general picture of the lecture along with some key details for understanding the material.
Not taking notes on paper/computer does not mean that you are not doing anything. It means that your mind is actively engaged in the lecture (sometimes difficult with super boring professors). I dare you to try this! Put your laptops in your bag and paper and pen in the garbage and then just sit there. If there is a small list that seems important (example: Layers of the GI tract) then try to memorize them quickly. Inevitably the professor is going to talk about each point (layer). Do your best to remember some of the major details about each but keep your focus on the big picture by simply remembering the layers. By keeping engaged in the lecture studying/creating effective outlines will be much much much easier!
What about all the details that you miss out on? For many schools (if not all?) they do what are called verbatims and podcasts. Verbatims is where someone (usually hired by the class) writes word for word what the professor says for each slide. This allows the students to go back and read/listen to exactly what the professor said. This means you won’t be missing out on anything!
I will continue to add to the list of BEST WAYS TO TAKE NOTES as time permits. Let me know what you think the ideas and feel free to share your secrets with the rest of us!