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Whether you are a three months into your freshman year or three years into high school, one of the most important skills every high school student needs is the ability to take good notes. Although sometimes it may seem tedious, taking excellent notes is a key factor in doing well in every course from world history to advanced calculus. Being a senior, I have spent the last three years learning not only how to take good notes, but now to take notes efficiently. Here are some tips on how to take notes like a pro.

1. DO NOT write down everything your teacher says

This will not only save you time but will also lessen your level of stress throughout the class. Trying to write down everything the teacher says will cause you to fall behind, especially if the teacher has crammed a ton of facts into the lesson. Instead try using some form of short hand and abbreviations that works best for you. Instead of writing out “because” try writing “bcuz” or “bc.” However make sure that you are going to remember what the full word is that you abbreviated, and NEVER abbreviate new words or definitions.

2. Do not spend every second jotting down notes

This was a piece of advice I received as a junior, and by following it I was able to become a lot more present in my classes. While note taking is important, being active and present in the class is a necessity. Make sure you are actually pausing to listen to what the teacher is saying instead of just blindly jotting down notes, and always make sure to look at any pictures a teacher puts on the board.

3. Diagrams are important too

If possible try and quickly sketch and label any diagrams the teacher puts on the board. Also ask them for the textbook page that the diagram is on, this way you can go back and review it later.

4. Color coding isn’t necessary

Many people try and color code their notes during lessons and fall short in doing so. It is already difficult enough to pay attention for a whole period, especially with block scheduling, but trying to color code while also trying to process new information will put your brain into stress overload. Instead of trying to color code your notes during class, spend some time after class highlighting that days definitions, equations, and main points. This way you can focus your class time on processing the main points of that days lesson.

5. Summarize

Spending about five minutes after each class summarizing the main points from that day can be extremely helpful for when you go back and review your notes. This way you won’t need to spend twenty minutes reviewing every single word that you wrote, and can instead simply review the most necessary points.

Keep in mind that these tips are things that have worked for me in the past, but may not necessarily work for you. The most important tip I can give you is to try out a plethora of different styles and figure out which one you like the best, and start early. The earlier you figure out how to take notes effectively the easier high school will become. And remember, your peers are in the same boat as you, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask to borrow their notes.

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