A Key Skill for Students
While thorough notes are a vital part of making good grades, many students do not know how to take notes. Note taking is not a skill you are born with, but one that you learn. Unfortunately, most instructors assume that previous instructors have taught students study skills and how to take good notes. There are many ways to organize your notes, and the split-page method is one of the most popular. For more information about learning effective study skills, try our post on how to study.
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The split-page method is exactly what it sounds like.You split the page by drawing a vertical line all the way down the paper.The line should be located 2.5 to 3 inches from the left-hand side of the paper.
So, what do you do with the two sides?
Focus on Main Ideas and Key Points
Do not try to write down every word of the lecture when taking notes. Doing so requires you to write at full speed, which means you will stop listening to what is being said. Instead, focus on writing down the main ideas and key points. Watch for cues from the instructor for important points, and be sure to note anything the professor writes on the board.
The left-hand side of the page can have one of two uses. Some students prefer to use the left column for writing down keywords from the notes or questions they may have about the material. This allows them to cover the notes and use only the keywords as prompts when reciting the information. If you use the left-hand column for cues and keywords, be sure to write them down as soon as possible after the lecture, while the information is still fresh in your mind.
The more traditional use for the left side is creating an outline of the textbook by writing down keywords and main points, also known as the Outline method of taking notes.The trick to this method is to keep the information from the textbook and the notes together, and to separate chapters.With this format, a student is able to study the textbook and the lecture notes side-by-side, without wasting time or losing their train of thought by flipping back and forth between notes and textbook.
A variation of the split-page method is to divide the page into three columns. The middle column is used for taking notes in class. The left-hand column is used for outlining the text. The right-hand column is used for writing down keywords, cues, and questions the student may have about the material. This format provides the textbook and notes in one location, and has the added bonus of a cue column. This allows students to cover the first two columns and use the cues in the third column as memory prompts when reciting the information.
Note taking is not a natural skill, although some people are naturally better at it than others are. There is a wide variety of methods for taking good notes, and not all methods work for everyone. The split-page method is easy to learn and easy to use, making it an excellent method for anyone trying take better notes.