Making notes becomes a daily part of your life when you are a student. Irrespective of which discipline you belong to, making notes is a skill that you need to adapt and apply. When you make notes it helps you not in one but multiple ways. In this article today we will discuss the advantages of note-making and its multiple facets. We will first discuss the advantages of taking notes. Then we will look at three different scenarios where making notes will benefit you immeasurably. These three scenarios will be taking notes in class, taking notes for exams, and finally how note-making can even help you in preparing for an interview.
Advantages of Note Making
- Increase engagement
When you take notes you are proactively engaging with the material which makes you stay active and engaged during your classes, reading, or revision sessions.
- Prioritize large amounts of information
Taking notes allows you to learn how to prioritize the information you receive. When taking notes you do not note everything in front of you but only what you find relevant.
- Better organizational skills
You improve your organizational skills because when making notes you follow a structure and a flow.
- Maintaining a Record
A big piece of text can be broken down to a summary of 3 to 4 pages which helps you maintain a condensed record of all your reading materials.
- Revision Guide
Remembering everything you study is impossible, therefore your notes are a savior when it comes to recollecting what you have covered.
- Boosts Creativity
The notes you make not only have to be what you listen to or read, but they can also include any thoughts, examples, or ideas which come to your mind while jotting your notes. Therefore they also give a boost to your creative thinking.
Prepare Notes for Classes / Lectures
One of the most important and regular things you will do as a student is taking notes. Whether you are attending a class, a seminar, watching a video, reading an article, what will be expected from you is that you always keep a record of what you study. How you keep a record is through making relevant and precise notes. As a student, the most ideal way for you to make notes is to divide note-making into three phases: notes before the class, notes in the class, and notes after the class.
- Taking notes before the class
As a student, you are expected to come to the class where you are familiar with the course material which will be discussed. So presumably you will read before you take the class. It is during your reading that you take notes. As you read the material prescribed to you, take notes simultaneously.
How to make these notes:
- As you continue to read, write down all the important statements, arguments, and/or examples that you find in the text.
- If you read something and it strikes any sort of idea or imagination in your head, write it down too.
- If you read something and you disagree with it, note your disagreement and the reason for it.
- Theoretical texts contain a distinct vocabulary. Therefore if you find a word that is new for you, look up its definition and write it down as well.
- When you are finished with the reading, write a paragraph that will describe what was the main argument.
[ Making Notes Before the Class: Write the page number and the points you think are worth noting. Change the font color, size, or style, if there is something you disagree with or have a doubt to clarify. ]
- Taking notes during the class
The classroom setting is a lot different and fast-paced than you sitting on your own and reading. When you’re in the classroom setting, your professor speaks at their own pace, and your note-making has to match the speed of the professor. This is where you hone your prioritizing skills. Take board notes and write down only what you feel is very necessary to write.
How to make these notes:
- Since you are already familiar with the text, when the professor is speaking, take broad notes where you write down what you feel is significant.
- Write down the examples which are brought up in the class. These are very helpful to locate how your study correlates with the larger current happenings.
- Again note any thoughts or ideas that come to your mind while you are attending the lecture.
- If your professor refers to pages when they teach, make sure to write down those page numbers as well so that you can revisit them later at your own time.
Sociology Group Suggestion: If you have any doubts regarding what you read or what was said in the class it is best to clear them out as early as possible. If you are someone who is okay to speak in the class, make sure to resolve your doubts then and there. On the other hand, if you are shy you can always send an email to your professor after the class where they can respond to your questions.
[ Taking Notes during the Class: Write down whatever you think is important. Note down the name of the reading and page numbers (if your professor mentions them). Highlight the points you think are the main arguments. ]
- Taking notes after the class
This step is optional and takes extra effort but if you do this, your notes will be the most perfect. As we discussed, the notes that you take during the class are broad and dispersed in nature. They have a flow to them but they lack the depth as you are listening, writing, and analyzing all at once. That’s why if you take out 15 minutes after your lecture, you can organize the notes and revisit the page numbers referred by your professor.
How to make these notes:
- Whatever notes you took in class see if there are gaps in between them. If you find gaps, make additional notes to complete the train of thought.
- Look up the pages quoted by your teacher and see if there is anything worth revisiting.
- Write one paragraph (some sort of a summary) stating what was taught in that specific class.
- You can also make a to-do list after every class to stay on track with your reading and assignments.
[ Completing Notes after the Class: Once the class is over, make a summarized version of your notes so that you can recall everything at once. ]
Prepare Notes for Exams
When you have regular and organized class notes they help you immensely when preparing for exams. But even then the concentration and hard work which is required in the preparation of examinations is very different. The notes you make for exams have to be much more detailed, in sync and have your personal insights. To prepare notes for exams there are four components where you focus the most. The first is noting the main argument, the second is to note the sub-arguments that support the main point stated in the theory, the third is to figure out the examples for the explanation, and the fourth and last point is to write a good summary.
- Finding the Main Argument
The main argument is the main portion of any text you go through. It is the central claim or idea that runs throughout the reading. The author revisits it, again and again, to prove or disprove their findings from the field. Sometimes the main argument or the aim of the reading is pointed out by the author in the introductory paragraph itself. Whereas, other times you figure out the main argument only after reading the entire text.
How to note the Main Argument:
- If the main argument is stated clearly by the author, then start your note-making process by mentioning what is the aim of the reading.
- If the main argument is not mentioned in the beginning, then write the main argument at the end of your notes and keep it highlighted so it doesn’t skip your eyes.
- You can figure out what the main argument is by forming the connection that every substantive argument presented by the author boils down to one single idea or argument.
- Backing the main argument with sub-arguments
The sub-arguments are those arguments that are used by the authors to back up their main theme. The various sections or paragraphs in the text all relate to one other because they are following the same chain of thought. It is important to note the sub-arguments because they expose the different branches and aspects of the main argument.
How to note the Sub-arguments:
- Make your notes paragraph-wise. Most articles that you read will present different arguments in different paragraphs. When you make notes paragraph wise then you can clearly figure out the sub-theme.
- Relate every sub-argument you find with the main argument of the text. See how they are related and if they do not relate then write the reason for the same.
- If you disagree with any of the arguments, back it up with a reason. It is okay to disagree with what you read.
- Citing relevant examples
Now that you have notes which distinguish the various sub-arguments, it is time for you to either search for examples from within the resource, or search for examples, so that you can exactly explain what the text is all about. When you cite examples, you as well as your readers get a better understanding of the subject. Also examining current examples and relating them with theory offers a fresh perspective to some of the theories that date way back in history.
How to note down the examples:
- If you find examples from within the article then note them down and correlate them with the sub-argument.
- If you have to think of your own examples to back up the arguments make sure that your examples translate what the reading is all about.
- The more popular or current the examples the more weight they will carry.
- Do not cite examples just for the sake of it. Only cite them when it is adding to the argument rather than digressing with it.
- You should know the examples you use to back up your answer. Do not mention them if you don’t know about them.
- Summarize everything
This is the most example part of your exam notes. The material which you might be studying can be very lengthy and heavy. If after making all your notes, you make a summary it helps you to recollect all the data at once. It can be a one to two-paragraph long text that reevaluates all the main points covered throughout your notes. Imagine it like a note of your notes!
How to write a summary:
- The concluding section of any text you read is mostly the summary of the reading itself presented by the author. Study the last section carefully.
- Study your own notes till this moment of time and figure out all the major instances found by you.
- When you find them, write a paragraph or two which then reinstate these arguments.
Sociology Group Suggestion: When all your notes are made you can also make an outline to frame your answer so that it has a flow to it.
[ Make Notes for Exam: Write keywords so that you know which concepts are being discussed in a particular reading. Note down the summary to revise everything in short. Prepare page specific notes through which you can form your arguments, sub-arguments, and examples. ]
Prepare Notes for Interview
You might wonder what notes have anything to do with interviews. But in honesty, if you have prepared notes before you give an interview it will give you the much-needed preparation and confidence boost. When you brace yourself for an interview it always helps if you have an organized plan with you. Therefore, while getting ready for an interview you can make short notes that brief you and aid you prepare your answers. Gather notes to refine your response to questions like, tell us about yourself, why you like our company, and why we should hire you.
1. How to make Notes to introduce yourself
- Your name
- Your educational background
- Your interests, hobbies, etc.
Explain why you chose to study the discipline you belong to.
Note the reasons for you choosing your field, in this case why you chose to study Sociology. Share it with the interviewer so that they can see that you are well equipped with the knowledge surrounding your subject.
Share what you liked the most about studying sociology.
Whatever sociology has taught you based on skills such as research skills, analytical skills, fieldwork, etc, note them. Explain how the subject added to your skills and how it benefited you.
Introduce your past working experiences such as internships, fellowships, or jobs.
Keep a note of all your past work experiences regarding where you worked, what you did, and how it improved you. Keep it brief and precise. Your past experience puts you in a good light showcasing your best skills.
2. How to make Notes about the organization you’re about to join
Before you sit an interview to grab an admission, internship, or job, it is best that you know a little background about that place. A simple Google search will give you what you are looking for, but it will also give you a lot of information that you don’t need. Therefore use your note-making capabilities to filter out the relevant information that you are looking for.
- Know about what the organization does.
- Every organization has a set of ethos that they follow. Do an online search and see what the organization stands for and make a note of them. When your interviewer asks you why you want to join their organization, bring forward these ideas and relate them with how you embrace them and believe in them as well.
- Appreciate the work done by the organization.
- When you are searching about the background of the organization, look at a few projects that they might’ve taken up. Do thorough research on it and let the organization know that you are already interested in their work and would love to become an active member.
How to make Notes when answering why should someone hire you
- Promote your Hard skills.
- Whatever skills you have learned as a sociologist and from your past working experience jot them all down. Hard skills are those skills that you have acquired through the medium of your education (analytical skills, academic writing, etc.). When you write all your skills you can elaborate on them easily in the interview.
- Promote your Soft skills.
- Soft skills are the skills you develop as a human with experiences (time management, team leadership, etc.). Promote your skills showing the interviewer that you are a stable and informed person who will benefit the organization. Make sure that while noting your soft skills you back them up with real-life experiences.
- Relate what you have studied with real-world application.
- Note down all the concepts that you have theoretical knowledge about. See how they correlate with the organization you are about to join. Apply those theories in real-time and explain to the interviewer how your academic knowledge gives you the edge that is required to excel.
- Sell yourself.
- The last bit is to sell yourself. Write down all the things which make you unique as an individual. Being unique doesn’t mean that you have to be extraordinary, rather find a way to present yourself as someone who is the ideal candidate. Show how you are different from the others. Here you can explain your qualities such as being a hard worker or being open to criticism.
Sociology Group Suggestion: We recommended note-making for clearing interviews so that you are prepared to answer anything that gets thrown your way. Additionally, by having it all noted down you cannot miss anything which might get forgotten if you are speaking out of thin air.
Also Read: Academic Writing – Guide