Taking Notes and Making Study Guides for Yourself

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  • 0:01 Notes & Study Guides
  • 1:00 Effective Note-Taking
  • 2:42 Creating Study Guides
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Notes and study guides are important tools for scholastic success. But what's the best way to take notes? And how do you create a study guide? This lesson will help you learn how to effectively complete both of these tasks.

Notes & Study Guides

Daniel is overwhelmed with schoolwork, and he knows he should be studying better, but he's not sure how to do that. His friends have mentioned that he should take notes and create study guides, but, unfortunately, he's not even sure how to do that or what a study guide is.

Notes are a brief record of information. They are taken in class, while watching a video, or while reading, and they summarize the main points of what is being learned in the student's own words. For example, if Daniel is watching a video on human cultural geography, he might take notes and put in his own words the important information from the video.

Meanwhile, a study guide is organized information to help guide studying. They are often used to prepare for tests. For example, if Daniel is preparing for a test on human cultural geography, he might create a study guide to help him prepare.

Let's look closer at how Daniel can take effective notes and create study guides for himself.

Effective Note-Taking

Okay, Daniel knows he should be taking notes, but he's not sure how. What's the best way possible?

To understand how to do this effectively, Daniel needs to know that there are two risks of note-taking. There is the risk that the notes will be too brief and the risk that they will be too comprehensive. If the notes that Daniel takes are too brief, he will miss out on important information. On the other hand, if they are too comprehensive, he hasn't sorted through to find the most important points.

It's kind of like going to the grocery store. If Daniel goes into the supermarket and buys only one thing, but doesn't buy the other really important things he needs, then it's not a successful trip. On the other hand, if he goes into the supermarket and buys tons and tons of stuff, he's left with too many groceries and not enough time to eat them all before they all go bad.

Note-taking is just like that; Daniel needs to find a balance between too much information and too little information in his notes. But, how, exactly, can he do that?

Before he takes notes on a video or reading assignment, he will want to preview the resource first. He can, for example, look for chapter headings in a textbook or note titles in a video. This will help him understand how the resource is structured and what the most important things may be.

Then, he will want to jot down the most important points. These are often in bold letters in a text or on-screen in videos. Finally, after he's taken notes, Daniel will want to take a minute or two at the end to underline or highlight important information so that it's easier for him to see later.

Creating Study Guides

Okay, Daniel thinks that he has this note-taking thing down, but what happens next? After he's taken his notes, does he just put them away? How can he use them to help prepare for tests?

As we mentioned before, study guides are a good way to prepare for tests. They involve taking information, such as that from notes, and organizing it in a way that makes studying easier and more effective. There are two things that Daniel must do to transform his notes into a study guide:

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