How to Make Effective Study Notes For Secondary School Students

Ever wonder how some students are more successful academically than others? The secret lies in note-taking. Taking notes help you recall information taught in class. Every student needs a good note-taking system. Knowing how to take good notes can help you to:

  • prepare before the lecture
  • review key concepts after a class
  • stay focused during the lecture to pay attention
  • actively listen to what teacher is saying and participate by asking right questions
  • make connections between topics
  • serves as quality review material for tests or exams.

Below are some note-taking techniques for you to use. Try different note-taking strategies with different subjects and see which one works best for you.

1. The Outline Method

The Outline method is one of the best and most popular note-taking methods for college students. It lets you organize your notes in a structured form and helps you save a lot of time for further reviewing and editing. 
This is a linear step-by-step method where you structure your notes with a heading, then outline the different topics by bullet points and sub-bullet points. This method is not suitable for subjects like chemistry or math or lectures that do not follow a certain structure.

2. The Cornell Method

This is a unique note-taking method where you divide the layout of your notepaper into four sections. The top of the section is for title and date. The next section is divided into two columns in the ratio of 30:70 percent for left and right respectively (keywords and main points). The final section is for the summary of the topic. Please reference the picture for the full layout.

The Cornell Method is ideal for all types of lectures as it is a quick way to take, review and organize your notes. This method summarizes all the information in a systematic manner and allows you to extract the main ideas from the lecture. It is effective learning for the students as it enables them to absorb information in a shorter time and cuts down on the time needed to review.

3. The Mindmap Method

The mind map is a great way of taking notes for specific types of subjects. Class subjects like chemistry, history, and philosophy that have interlocking topics or complex, abstract ideas are perfect for this method. Write the topic or question in the middle of your paper. Branch out the idea and make sub-topics. Add in details.

A closely related note-taking technique is the mapping method which is good for overall consolidation and summary of the topic. It helps you organize your notes by dividing them into branches and helps you establish relationships between the topics. Start by writing the main topic at the top of the map. Keep dividing it into subtopics on the left or right as you go down.

4. The Flow Method

This note-taking method is great for students looking to maximize their active learning within the classroom and minimize their review time later. The point of flow notes is to treat yourself like the student you are, and not a lecture-transcribing machine.

Jot down topics, draw arrows, make little doodles and diagrams and graphs. Go crazy. Engage with the material. Try to actively learn as you’re writing.

Perhaps you’re in history class and your professor is talking about the Battle of Hastings, and you remember that it happened in 1066 and that there were other things happening across the globe in the year 1066, too. Write those facts down and draw connections.

5. Write on the Slides Method.

This method of note-taking is for lazy people. If your teacher has given you physical copies of the slides, all you have to do is take notes and expand on key concepts already presented in the slides.

6. Bullet Journaling

Great for visual learners. If you’re super into aesthetics, like to doodle, or are a particularly visual learner, this method might be best for you.

When you write in your bullet journal, you turn a blank page into a beautiful representation of your thought process. Try using it to combine different aspects of other note-taking styles. You can have one page that’s dedicated to mind maps, another that’s dedicated to your flow notes, and even sneak in a class schedule or a doodle of Sonic the Hedgehog somewhere. It’s your bullet journal. I don’t know, do what you want! It’s your journal!

7. Diagram and Tables Method

Good for physical geography topics like atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. Consolidate as much as you can into the diagram. You can also photocopy the diagrams or tables from your textbooks and paste them into your notebook for easy revision before the exams.

8. Timelines or Chronology Method

Presents a clear vision of what happened and when it happened. It is imperative that you get your chronology right.

Need ideas for what your journal should look like? Just go on Pinterest or google ‘BuJo ideas for students’. Let us know if you found the above helpful?

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Meiling Wong

Meiling is a Singaporean mom who loves spending time with her 2 kids until they ditch her for slime-making and digital gaming. These days, she keeps herself busy trying to keep up with the social media while still contemplating if she should learn how to play "Clash Royale".

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