How to take effective notes - Wholly Christian

How to take effective notes (3 methods + examples)

Hey everyone, its been a minute (okay, maybe a bit longer than a minute).

I cannot believe that we are halfway through this year already. It is genuinely unbelievable because it feels like it was just yesterday when we were celebrating new years. I don’t know about you, but I am already planning for the end if the year.

This year is both a very exciting and nerve racking year but I am quite excited for it in all honesty. So since it is my last year of high school I thought that it might be fitting to summarize the few skills that I have acquired over the past 12 years of school.

I know how frustrating and difficult studying can be, especially when the notes that you have taken through out the year are not effective notes. They are untidy and not easy to read or understand. I also know the annoyance of using a note taking method for one subject and then when you try to apply it to another subject, it just doesn’t work the way that is should.

But worry no more (insert confident superhero pose), because in this post I will be showing you how I take effective notes for different subjects using different note taking techniques.

What are “effective notes”

If we were to come up with an official and dictionary style definition it would be:


Effective notes (noun):  
A certain type of notes that when written and used produce the desired result

But in all honesty, I personally consider effective notes as being the notes that retain the most amount of information in the least amount of time and hopefully they turn out relatively cute in the process (we can still dream).

Note Taking Techniques

I am pretty sure that once upon a time, we either googled or were taught different note taking techniques but never really understood how to use them. I often found it difficult to use only one technique as it would not necessarily work every time.

So for every subject I tried to see which one suited me best. After trying almost every note taking method there is, I discovered that the following methods work best for me and allows me to take the most effective notes.

Mind Map Method

I use this format for subjects like Math when I am making topic and section summaries. I also use mind maps in Biology to depict processes within the body.

Mind maps also make effective notes as the diagram can be a study aid for visual learners.

P.S: I prefer to take my math notes on grid paper rather than lined paper. You can purchase some grid paper from here: Note Paper Bundle

The Cornell Method

The Cornell method is a quite popular method.

Even though I modified it slightly, I like this method because it allows me to visually separate and designated certain facts and information to a specific area on a page.

Instead of dividing my page into 3 separate parts, I just rule a column on the left hand side of the page. I excluded the bottom bit because I realised that I do not really need a summary section on every page. If you prefer it there, you can rule a line to the bottom of your page to make space for it.

I usually use this method for content heavy subjects like History and languages such as French. I think that the structure makes it easier to make effective notes because everything is well sectioned from each other.

The Outline Method

I usually use this method in conjunction with the Cornell Method.

The structure of this method consists of main points and its subsequent elaboration and explanation.

I usually use this method in my English class when we are studying literature. When discussing topics such as the themes and characters of a novel. I often find myself needing to write a lot of information on one topic or person.

This structure organises all the relevant information in a hierarchical manner.

Stationary & Other Materials

I know how cute all those study notes on Pinterest can look and sometimes it may seem like it is extremely time consuming but I am here to gladly tell you can still have cute notes and save time by using minimal stationary. For example, when I take notes, on my desk you will usually find:

  • A blue or black pen
  • A pencil
  • An eraser
  • A ruler
  • A coloured pen
  • and a highlighter

To maintain a certain “colour scheme”: I would use a coloured pen and highlighter of the same colour.

Having limited stationary ensures that you do not spend toooooo much time trying to make your notes look pretty.

How to take notes faster

We all can admit that making notes is an arduous process but there are certain things that we can do to reduce the amount of time needed to make notes.

For one, we can write notes in our own words which will allow you to take effective notes quicker and it lets you restructure the content in such a way that it will make it easier for you to understand and remember at a later stage i.e. when you have to study for an exam.

Another useful tip is to develop a short hand. A short hand can be like a secret code that only you can understand but the whole point of it is to shorten some of the most common words so that the writing process goes a bit quicker.

For example:

addition = addt’n

therefore = ∴

because = coz

Free digital notebook

Free digital notebook

Here is a free digital notebook for those who like to take notes on their devices.

If you still like taking your notes by hand you can easily print these pages out

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    Let me know in the comment section below if there are any note-taking methods that you prefer to use and how you personally take effective notes?

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