Study Hacks Blog Decoding Patterns of Success

Guest Post: The KISS Approach to Lecture Notes

September 12th, 2007 · Be the first to comment

This article was written for Study Hacks by Russ from The Student Help Forum. It’s part of a post swap that our two blogs are conducting this week. I also recommend browsing the Student Productivity Week series that Russ is co-authoring with Gideon, our friend from Scholastici.us. Some interesting stuff…

Taking notes during lectures is perhaps the most important part of retaining knowledge throughout your university semester, but most students are simply not that good at it. They tend to focus on either writing down every word your lecturer says, and just the important points. There is a much easier method which will definitely pay off when final exams come around.

Simplification!

I have used this method for many months and it always works perfectly. The general idea is to write down the heading of the topic, and write down in the simplest way possible what it is about. Try to imagine that you are talking to a younger child. But you also have to remember to include all the complication information towards the end.
The reason this works is that the next time you look over your notes it may have been weeks since you wrote the information down, and you will not remember what you were talking about. Having a simplified description means that you will remember the basis of the notes instantly, and from there you can focus on the complex concepts, equations, or explanations.

While this may sound counter-intuitive, it really does work.

This method is based on the ever popular K.I.S.S idea (Keep it Simple, Stupid). Trying to keep all of your ideas in their simplest form allows you to really understand the principles rather than just memorize facts. It also gives you more time to learn the more difficult concepts.

Learning the basics is key for any student. Most of the knowledge that you will learn are just extensions of the basic ideas given in the first few weeks. Understanding, not only how to use them, but why is very important, and truly is the key to success.

Naturally there are hundreds of different methods of taking notes, but time and time again simplification seems to reign supreme. Although taking notes in an easy to understand manner does not mean that you skip the hard topics. The idea is that you take a hard concept, and re-interpret it in your own words. The use of images or diagrams can also be very beneficial when trying to convert a difficult problem into a series of simple ones.

The main difficulty with converting to this method of note taking is the mental difficulties. Some people will feel that they are leaving out important information, while others will be able to start with little difficulty. The only way to try out this method is to start today. While it may suit some students, others will find it too restricting. From my own personal experience I can personally guarantee that this does work for me, and it should work for you too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *