How to Write Effective Notes

There are many different methods to write notes, whether they be online or on paper. But we have found that one especially useful method in writing notes is collaboratively. This may seem counterintuitive, as notes are meant to help strengthen individual understanding, but it is actually a great way to work in groups.

With a small group of trusted friends (perhaps 2 or 3) who are at a similar academic level to you, creating a shared Google Folder for subjects in common is very helpful. Although the notes on specific topics are written alone (and we will provide a guideline for this later on), the shared drive allows you to read through different versions of the same set of notes and fill in the gaps in your understanding. Before an exam, instead of reading your own notes 3x, you can read each note once -- and you will find that the slight variations actually give you a much more comprehensive knowledge of the topic. Not only this, but if you are sick it will be an easy way to catch up on the lesson, and if you find yourself having missed a small section because the teacher was too quick or you had a lapse in focus this is remedied fast. Overall, we think this method is an excellent one; but must leave you with a word of warning -- collaborative working only works effectively if all the members of the group trust each other, and if every individual does their part. 


But now, how to write these individual notes? Here are some tips.

  1. Copy and paste the syllabus points at the top of every note.

  2. Include diagrams next to explanations.

  3. In maths and science topics, if a formula is not in the data booklet, mark it in red.

  4. Write examples on a separate document to review.

  5. Use bullet points when possible.

  6. In english and language topics, if a quote is important, write it in a separate document.

  7. Keep definitions together so they are easily found.

  8. Make tables to compare and contrast information.

If all these tips are followed, the notes written should be clear, concise and well-structured. They should make a perfect repertoire to review when the exams draw near!