Now that spring break has come to an end, this week marks the beginning of a new unit in most classes. This is a great time to beef (or seitan) up your approach to learning and reviewing your course material. The most direct way to monitor your comprehension is to practice effective note-taking–or as I like to call the zen and art of notebook maintenance.
See how impressed Rachel McAdams was after she saw Ryan Gosling’s well maintained notebook?
Effective note-taking involves two processes: taking notes in class and reviewing them afterwards. Most college students in various capacities are able to complete the first step. Everyone seems to have either a pad of paper or laptop out during a lecture; however, few take the time to look back at their notes. After a few days or so without any consolidation, the information slips out of our brains, and becomes mere decoration for our binders. Instead of ignoring the information you learn from each class, take a moment after to actively review what you have learned. This can involve writing a quick 3-4 sentence summary at the bottom of your notes, highlighting key details that are likely to show up on a test, or indicating what material you don’t quite understand. Reviewing your notes as such will pay huge dividends in understanding your course material, as it strengthens your memory in the subject area and narrows your focus when reviewing for the exam.
The process may seem cumbersome at first, but if you actually try it you’ll find that post class review only takes 5 to 10 minutes. Think about all the time and stress that goes into cramming. Is spending 5 minutes after each class worse than that? Do yourself a favor and give effective notebook maintenance a shot!