Every time exams roll around, our best friend seems to become our textbook. Textbooks are great for reviewing material that you may not have understood during your professor's lecture or for just simply learning new information you may not have known before. However, while textbooks are great to use as study tools, they're not necessarily used in the most productive way. Here are some effective ways to take notes using a textbook that have worked for me. For a comprehensive guide to note-taking, check out this other Fresh U article!
1. Preview the chapter.
Before thinking about writing notes, take the time to read chapter headings and subheadings. Textbooks are great because they're organized into sections for easy understanding. Never neglect supplemental charts and graphs, either. They're more important than you think.
2. Write in your own words.
Often times, we get in the habit of just simply rewriting everything from a textbook onto a notebook. Not only does this consume a lot of time and energy, but it also doesn't really guarantee that you'll remember everything that you've written. Instead of writing as you read, try reading a manageable amount of text first (about a page) and then summarizing it in your own words onto paper.
3. Add visual elements.
Sometimes, concepts aren't as easily understood through words. If need be, create your own visual interpretation of a concept or topic that will help you retain the information better and also help you recall the information later on when you go back to review your notes.
4. Don't go crazy with the highlighter.
Highlighters should be used sparingly. Remember: they're meant to be used to bring your attention to the most important pieces of information on the page. If you're highlighting paragraphs at a time, then you're doing it wrong. Take the time to read the text in chunks before you reach for your highlighter so you can go back and pick out what's really crucial.
5. Create a separate, personalized glossary.
If you're studying for a class that involves memorizing definitions, then a personal glossary might be a good decision. Whether you prefer to write definitions on note cards or on a separate piece of paper, make sure you have a designated area to keep important terms. This can help you stay more organized.
6. Annotate in the textbook.
Taking notes in a notebook is great, but if it's allowed, try annotating in the textbook. Annotating in the margins of a page is a great way to save time because you can add comments while reading. But remember, these annotations shouldn't be long because they shouldn't disturb your flow of reading or train of thought. Recording your reactions or thoughts, though, can definitely help you retain information better. Make sure you have a good set of note-taking pens for this!
Note-taking, if done right, can be a painless and extremely beneficial process. Next time, instead of just reading and re-reading pages and pages of text, try these tips. They might just save your grade.
Lead Image Credit: Alex Read via Unsplash