Completely random post today, but it turns out a few people were interested in how I write my notes. I’m doing open university at the moment so my life is taking notes from the books and lectures and online resources before completing essays on that topic. I also spent a lot of my a levels at home being unwell so I’ve spent a lot of time self motivating myself to work. Having to deal with memory loss from medications made my note taking crucial to my success academically. So I’ve done an example and if this is useful in the slightest then let me know.
So firstly I start with an A5 spiralled notebook, usually with a hard cover. The hard cover makes it easy to write on without having to use another book to lean on. I use a spiralled notebook because although the bound ones are usually prettier, it’s difficult to rip pages out of things go wrong. So something like this notebook is great, but I would usually use something with a harder back. You can buy these really cheap, this one was £5 but a great place is actually homesense where they have loads of discounted unique finds.
So I would usually start by having my heading for the topic in bold in the middle at the top of the page. Sometimes I underline, sometimes I don’t but I have here, just for a demonstration. I know some people prefer having a heading page, so I’ve done one of those too, just so show how I would do it if I did.
I then go straight into notes in a complimentary colour to my heading and continue with that colour scheme until I reach a different topic. Within the notes I use different colours to underline names and dates. I use the same colours across all topics so I don’t confuse myself with a changing key. When I need to add to a point, I use a little arrow underneath. I usually do this when there’s an argument against the point or for the point or just extra information.
I use bubbles to highlight quotes I use within my notes as it helps with finding them for future essays. If I remember I usually put exactly what I need to use for referencing within the notes so I don’t have to go searching for it later. I much prefer this method to highlighting because it looks much neater within the books as highlighting can make the ink or it’s not straight or it can be hard to read what’s underneath. I often use capitals to highlight important notes for this reason too.
I usually put sub-headings to the left side of the page in the same colour as the original heading. For example this heading could be “revision” and underneath I could write questions in red and their answers in blue for self testing. The questions however are usually the last section of the topic.
It seems simple, but detail in notes is key. The idea with note taking for revision for me, is my notes are slightly less detailed than the original source and slowly with revision I cut down and down until I get to a few sentences I memorise and then expand on in exams. That’s where sub headings come in handy. If you keep your notes on a topic themed or in sections it becomes easier to make condense.
While I usually start with notes like this, I usually end up with note cards in a holder like these. Note cards are the next step in condensing the information in the notes. These are my actual a level criminal law notes that I have kept for nearly 3 years.
Lots of love,