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As much as we don't want to let go of summer, we have to admit that our heartbeats quicken at the thought of shiny new school supplies. For students heading off to college, this is the perfect time to reevaluate your study habits and adopt some tried-and-true tools. To help you prepare, we've rounded up some of our favorite note-taking strategies that will help you power through the semester.
Divide and Conquer
Use dotted line paper to divide the page into neat sections.
One of the best ways to maximize the effectiveness of your note-taking is to split up your paper into sections. Carve out a margin to the right or left for listing out main points, as well as a section at the bottom of the page to write a succinct summary. That way, it's easier to remember the main points when you're studying later. The Kokuyo Campus Twin Ring Notebook features evenly spaced dots along the lines that are the perfect guidelines to divide your paper. Simply place your ruler along the dots and draw in lines to designate these spaces. You can even line the sections with washi tape for a fun, personalized look.
Use index tabs to create an edge index for easy reference.
More times than not, there will be several themes that your professor references again and again throughout the semester. Use index tabs to represent each theme and tag them in your notes for easy look-up later. For even better organization, have an index page in the back delineating the themes and line up the tabs to each theme on the index page. When you're studying for your midterms or finals, you just have to flip to the index page and you'll know immediately where the relevant notes are.
Use different styles of loose leaf paper and rearrange them in notebooks that can open.
This tip is especially handy in classes where you're sketching out diagrams, charts, or other drawings in addition to taking written notes. We recommend the Lihit Lab Aqua Drops Twist Ring Notebook, which has easy-to-open rings for you to arrange and rearrange as you please. You can use different sheet styles including lined, graph, and plain, depending on the needs of the class. After each class, rearrange the loose leaf papers in a logical way and you'll have neat, well-organized notes.
Master Your Writing Instruments
Use multi pens to color code text content.
Color coding is a proven method not just for note-taking, but general organizing as well. Using a multi pen is a convenient way to color code your notes because you don't have to switch pens to switch colors. The secret to being effective is to limit the number of colors you use; otherwise, you can become overwhelmed when you look back at your notes. The correlation between the colors and theme should be easily recalled. Pick a color coding system that works for you. For example, in history class, we like to use red for important dates, blue for influential people, and green for significant events and places.
Products featured: Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color 0.5 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil
Use highlighters to pinpoint important information.
While you look over your notes, use a highlighter to highlight parts that you need to study again in more depth. The trick is to use it sparingly to not overwhelm the page with fluorescent ink. We like using erasable highlighters, because we can erase it after we're satisfied with the amount of time spent studying those parts. The FriXion highlighter erases with friction, so make sure not to use it with pencil or other inks that may rub off easily. You should allow the highlighted segments to dry completely before trying to erase it; it may smear otherwise. Another great highlighter is the versatile Kokuyo Beetle Tip, which allows you to use three styles of highlighting: a fine line, a thick line, and two parallel lines, depending on your preference.
Use scented pens to jog your memory.
Studies have shown that smell and memory are closely linked, and what better way to implement this than in your note-taking? We'll take any excuse to channel our inner Elle Woods and use our scented pens. Take the same pen you wrote your notes with to do practice tests, and see if the scent helps you recall the correct answers! If that works for you, bring the same pen with you on test day.
Memo-rise to the Occasion
Use memo notes to create a summary or page of highlights.
For every chapter or section of notes, we recommend using memo notes to create a summary or list of highlights. That way, you can have a quick refresher before each class to remind yourself what happened the last class. It's also a good way to study for a midterm--you can look through each memo note and decide which chapters you need to focus on. Then you can go through that specific section in more detail later.
Products featured: Maruman Smooth to Write Loose Leaf Mini Paper - Multi Color, Kokuyo Campus Slide Binder
Use pocket memo notes to keep miscellaneous items.
We always keep a pocket memo book on us to jot down homework assignments or other housekeeping information that is class-related, but not necessarily relevant to the content of our notes. These "Keeper" memo notes are great for safekeeping those miscellaneous items. You can tear out a page and stick it into the pocket to look back at later! It's a good idea to keep everything written down and in one place so you're not scrambling around to find what you need.
Use "window" memos on important diagrams and drawings.
See-through "window" memos let you trace any important diagram or drawing from your textbook or class handouts to transfer to your notes. This is a great way to keep all the important information in your notes, so you don't have to waste time flipping through your textbook or other handouts to find one elusive diagram. You can also use opaque memo notes to cover up the diagrams and try to replicate them from memory when you study. Then, take the notes off the ones you've mastered. You'll remember to scrutinize the covered diagrams more carefully in your next study session.
We hope these tips will help you become more effective in your studying as you begin this new school year! Let us know you have other study or note-taking tips in the comments below.
If you're looking for other school supplies, we have a variety of guides that can help you choose exactly what you need:
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