My ultimate guide to note-making

Last week I shared with you all, how I make mindmaps for revision (link here) but the thing about revision is – we can’t revise unless we first know the materials, to begin with! And for that we need to condense material in our books in a format we can understand. This is where ‘notes’ come into play. So, today I am sharing the three basic study models I use to solidify my understanding of the subject as well as to cut down the material by volumes.

Before I outline the study models, I must issue a disclaimer – the study models are something I have developed over the years and therefore it is not a miraculous solution for automatically getting good marks. Remember the idea of the study model is to make information easier to review, suit your needs and make study fun. 


All the study methods require basic groundwork first – 

  • If you have question bank related to the subject available, go through it 
  • Now skim over the entire chapter in about 10-15 minutes by looking at only the headings and bold words or words that are different from the regular font
  • Now read the first line of each paragraph – it will give you an idea what is the paragraph about since most writers place important focus in the first line itself
  • As you read, make annotations, highlight important points on the book itself or if it is a library book use post-it notes (sticky notes if you call them that)
  • You will start to notice that there is a lot of irrelevant and repeated information- cross that out.
  • Note doubts that crop up as you read, get it clarified at the soonest either through your own research or through the help of a friend or teacher. 

Remember, there is no point in making notes if all you are going to do is copy down lengthy paragraphs. (I know you are afraid that you will miss something important, but have faith in yourself, you won’t! Trust me on that!) 


Here are some bonus tips I use while will not making notes – 

  • Paraphrase – the key is to paraphrase by reading the paragraph beforehand and trying to reduce it to 1/10th of its size. This is not a strict role because some paragraphs are more important than other paragraphs.
  • Break it down! – seriously though, see that tough paragraph? It is nothing but a tangle of Complex sentences. All you have to do is to list out the key ingredients of that paragraph is bullet points. This will also help you in memorizing material easily
  • Lists are your friends – this follows from the point above but yes, Terry to put as many things in a list as possible. You will be surprised to find out how many things can actually be listed.
  • Have fun with colours – as it is most of us don’t like to commit ourselves to something as boring as studying, so for that, I recommend colour coding by use of different pens, highlighter anything. It will also help in information retention and recall. 


Now, with all my top tips done, the following are the study models I use –

  • Handwritten notes
    • This was a given. While The reason I emphasize handwritten notes is that humans by nature are lazy and therefore instead of copying material from the textbook, we find the shortest way to put it down.
    • I use it when my material has an agreeable structure. 
    • However, nowadays I don’t use it as much and have almost completely replaced it with charting.
  • Charts
    • This has become my go-to method of note-making.
    • What I like to do is put the main idea in the middle and since I have done my reading I have a rough idea of the space each sub-heading will consume. 
    • The reason it has replaced my handwritten method is because it helps me study my material in one glance (I try to keep 1 page per topic unless it is really lengthy) 
    • The obvious downside is that it is unsuitable for large chapters. What I do in that case is break down the large chapter into smaller main bits, then make a chart for each. When I have done the same, I will take another page to use as a cover showing me what are the parts I have broken down and that I have mindmaps regarding the same. (I hope that isn’t too  confusing)
    • Here are a few samples of my mind maps and charts
  • Typed notes
    • This is something I try to use sparingly since I am not a fan of sitting in front of a screen for long hours but this method becomes unavoidable when my subject doesn’t have good materials or the book I have doesn’t satisfy me. 
    • In that case, I open a word file and start typing out the information at hand, supplementing it with information obtained from online resources. 
    • The reason I use this is because the structure of my notes becomes easier to edit. If at a later stage I find some information to be wrong or irrelevant, I can simply delete it with a keystroke, however this is not possible in the other two methods. 

So, the TL;DR version is read your material, paraphrase or break down paragraphs, make use of lists and then make notes in chart form (mind maps or flow charts) if you agree with the structure of your material and if you don’t go for typing it out so you have the freedom to arrange the information as you like. 

That’s it! Hope this helps, if you have any queries don’t hesitate to mail or send a message! Till next post, HAPPY HUSTLIN’ HON!

6 replies

    • Ah yes that’s one problem I faced often – I usually would leave space in margins for that and if even that is full I would use post it notes to make sure everything is in place. Currently I have to work on research based notes so there’s a lot of restructuring which means tradition pen and paper don’t work for me, so I am going for typing my notes on my laptop using notion and Google docs. However after compilation I intend to make mindmaps out of it using the same technique mentioned above


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s