Note Taking Tips by sarahsaysmd:
In med school, taking notes is hard because there’s SO much material. I remember going through one of my lectures and wondering how the hell I was going to simplify it to something I could actually remember. I usually make what are called “study sheets” after each lecture, and this is how I do them!
- If there’s learning objectives, follow those. Use them to guide your notes. If there’s not, then use your intuition (based on what was heavily emphasized or covered the most) to figure out where to focus your notetaking. Just make sure you’ve organized everything in your head before putting it down to paper, because notes only work if they’re clear!
- Use categories to break up your learning. In one lecture there’s often multiple components, so I use headings to separate the main points. That way they don’t all blur together in my head.
- Whenever possible, make charts, diagrams, or drawings. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve remembered something on a test because I took the time to draw it out! If you’re a kinesthetic or visual learner, this is super helpful. It really simplifies the material and organizes it thoroughly. It’s much easier to study from a clear chart than a block of text.
- When you do use text, keep it concise. Use different colors to write out key phrases and terms, and try not to write out paragraphs and paragraphs. Sometimes, it unavoidable, and you need a lot of text to understand a key concept. Short and sweet wherever possible, though, makes life easier for you!
- Transform, transform, transform. Always try to put things in your own words wherever you can. Manipulate the material so that it coincides with what you’ve learned. When you think about a topic from multiple perspectives, you understand it a million times better.
- When reviewing notes, read them aloud! Sometimes, I cover up one section and say everything I can remember about it. Then I check to see if I missed anything. It’s a great way to review (might be awkward if you have roommates, but mine is used to my impromptu lectures by now!).