Making useful study notes

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Making useful study notes

Why do you need to make notes?

Study notes are a way for you to summarise and synthesise material that you are learning or collecting for a written assignment. A key point for making notes is that you need to re-write the material in your own words.

Types of notes: Flowcharts or process notes

Flowcharts and similar process notes can be useful when making notes for certain processes or methods.

Example 1: Historical timelines

Example 2: Steps in a laboratory method

Example 3: Mind Maps - For more information, visit Brainstorming: Mind mapping

Types of notes: Cornell notes

To make Cornell notes, divide the page up into three areas:

  1. A larger notes column (on the right of the page)
  2. A smaller recall column (on the left of the page)
  3. A summary section (at the bottom of the page)

Notes column: In the right hand column, write down the bulk of the notes from your lectures or study materials as you are reading your textbook or online materials.

Recall column: After you finish a chapter, section or study session, note down any questions, key words and main ideas in the recall column.

Summary section: At the bottom of the page, the summary section is used to summarise all the notes from the page, to make sense of the material and make revision easier.

Using your notes

For study, revisit your notes:

  • the day after you wrote them,
  • the following week,
  • at least once the following month.

This helps with your memory, meaning you will be better prepared for your exams!

Tip: If you are making research notes or using multiple different sources, also note down the reference details!