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How to write amazing study notes!

Why do you need to care about study notes?

Because writing study notes should be what your teen spends the majority of their time doing while they’re studying for exams!

Why is writing study notes so important?

Your teen has tonnes and tonnes of information to take in during the lead to up exams. And they’re not going to be able to retain this information unless they write a lot of it down.

The act of writing information down consolidates it in your memory in a way that you can’t achieve by only reading. While there are many other methods that your teen should employ while studying — study notes are a must.

The steps to writing study notes that really work

  1. Your teen’s study notes need to be written their own words.

    Simply copying text straight from a book won’t achieve anything at all. Your teen shouldn’t write anything down unless they understand it and can verbalize it easily.

  2. Study notes work best when they’re written in an organized manner.

    This means their notes should be written under headings and subheadings. Each of their subjects should already be broken down into these smaller pieces using Subject Maps.

    For example, if they’re doing Grade 10 Science, one of the major topics will be Biology. Your teen’s study notes for this topic should be written under the heading ‘Biology’, and then under subheadings, such as Micro-organisms, Cells and DNA, Inheritance, and so on.

    Having organized study notes is really important for later on when your teen is reading over their study notes and wants to find something. This would be impossible if they’d just written anything down anywhere.

  3. Your teen should write their notes in an exercise book to save themselves the hassle of losing random bits of paper.

    If they use one book per subject, then all their study for each subject is in one place and will be easy to find.

  4. It doesn’t really matter whether your teen writes their study notes out in full sentences, or in some form of short-hand, or a mixture of both.

    What is important is that, however they write them, the notes make sense to your teen. It might take a little bit of trial and error, but your teen’s study notes should become personalized to them — they should have your teen’s own personal style.

    Writing study notes in their own way is going to ensure they retain the largest amount of information possible.

  5. We highly recommend that your teen re-writes the parts of their study notes that they find more difficult, and particularly the really important concepts that are bound to come up in the exam.

    We also recommend that your teen reads over their study notes several times during the last few days before the exam. This will help to firmly consolidate what they’ve written.

    We’re positive that reading over our study notes in the lead up to an exam helped us earn a significant portion (perhaps at least 10%) of our grade.

Well set out study notes
Well set out study notes

You might like to print these instructions out so your teen can refer to them whenever they want until they get the hang of writing study notes.

If you’ve been helping your teen create Subject Maps, then your teen should use these to write their study notes. Their Subject Maps automatically show your teen what they should be studying and also in what order they should write each topic.

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Comments

  1. Thank you Abdirahman! It’s our pleasure. Remember you can email me anytime with any questions about studying you might have 🙂

    • hi clare thanks for giving such a helpful peice about note making. I am a high school student and i have a lots of problem regarding note making i sometime write down bulk of information so can u plz help me and give an image of proper notes.

      • Hey there! Thanks for your message! Just to clarify – are you talking about taking notes in class or writing out study notes at home while you study? I’m hesitant to send you an image of proper notes, because I don’t think that really exists! There’s really no right way or wrong way, it’s just about figuring out what works for you personally. Something I do might not be useful for you. In saying that, it sounds like you’re saying you tend to write too much in your study notes. If that’s the case, have a go at writing more concisely. When I write study notes I write sentences kind of like I would in a text message, so they’re not full sentences, they just contain the crucial bits of information. Let me know if you want more info on this 🙂

        • i would like some more advice on how to simplify notes into your own words, and not to write it word for word like i always do, and i find it a HUGE waste of time. please may you help me out here i am dying quiet badly!!!!!!!

          thanks so much for your help Clare

          Regards Michela

          • Hi Michela! Good question! Do you mean you’re writing notes down word for word out of a text book or something? Firstly, if you’re struggling to put things into your own words, this might be a sign that you don’t understand the content well enough. If this isn’t the problem, perhaps you could try and think about what you want to write down before you write it, and ask yourself, what is the simplest way I can express this point? Study notes don’t need to be Shakespeare, they just need to work for YOU, and no one else. Let me know how you go 🙂

          • hello Clare it is me again Michela, what i meant to say was i am at college, and obviously we receive notes during every lecture, and when i want to revise my notes i copy down word for word. i struggle to put them into my own words, and i land up rewriting the whole thing of notes out again and i am not absorbing the information into my head!!!!
            thank you so much for your advice in your first comment you sent me!!!! it was really a huge help.

            thank you Clare

            BTW such a beautiful name!!!!! 🙂

            Regards Michela. xx

        • im a high school student and i do find it hard keeping up with the teacher would you please help me with htis?

          • Hi Brynn, you’re definitely not alone in feeling a bit left behind in class. If your teacher says something you don’t understand, I would try and speak us in class and say so. Or, if you’re not keen to speak up during class, I would definitely tell the teacher after class what you didn’t understand. Hopefully they will take the time to explain it to you, and you asking the question will show the teacher that they’re going too fast for some students. I guarantee you won’t be the only one who’s confused!

  2. Dat ws quit helpul.. All m confused is abt how to organise my notes in a systematic
    way wen refering diff books..i.e. hw cn i mak a good consolidated note?
    2-shud i make separate notes of theory n solve my practicals separately?
    3-will only reading summarised notes during exms n nt refring books will b sufficient…
    plss help me by answerin dis ques..do reply me fast..i hav dis very imp exams coming near n havent prepared anythig….

    • Hi Nisha! Sometime there’s no easy way out with studying – consolidating study notes can take some time, but by the end of it, it should be worth your while!
      Separating your theoretical and practical study sounds like a good idea to me, but it will probably depend on how much the two are related.
      You don’t have to only summarise notes during exams – but we find this a really useful thing to do. If you don’t feel comfortable only relying on summarised notes, then there’s nothing saying you can’t read fuller notes. It’s just that summarising them is a fantastic way to improve your information retention.
      Best of luck! 🙂

  3. Really Nice Thank you very much It helped me allot ….i appreciate the time and effort you put in Thank you very much once again

  4. i have this habit of making notes but sometimes as i study from various sources sometimes my notes gets big … any way through which i can make it more concise and is it bad to have bigger notes????

    • There is nothing bad about having ‘big’ study notes. It’s all about what works for you, so if you think that writing out lots of notes is an effective way to help you study, then go for it! If you want to make them more concise though, that’s fine too. You could start with your first set of notes and then from those, write a new set of notes that really only picks out the key points from your first set. Re-writing study notes can actually be really good for our information retention. I used to find it really helpful!

  5. Actually, I find difficulty in preparing my study notes… Bcz i do not knw hw to make a sentence or a paragraph short in order to understand it easily…i do re- write the same para again in my notes which is of no use..so, plz can u give me few suggestions to write my study notes……..

    • Study notes can be a really helpful tool for remembering information and for consolidating information. They’re probably less helpful when you don’t quite yet understand the topic. If you’re struggling with writing your study notes, maybe this is because you don’t yet fully understand what you’re writing? Once you do understand something, writing it down in full sentences, bullet points, or even short-hand should be a lot easier. If you think you do understand what you’re studying but are still having trouble writing your notes please let me know and we’ll tease this out more 🙂

      • thanks for giving ur information.cauze i coudnt think how to make short notes,but nw i know hw to make a short notes,,thankssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. is it ok if we can type out our own short notes in MS word and get a print out?does it have to be hand written?

    • Of course! Study notes can take any form at all. It’s all about what’s going to work for YOU. If typing out of your notes on a computer helps you to understand the content and retain information effectively, then go for it 🙂

      • thanks a lot !!!!! you and this website are awesome. You guys have an amazing capability of understanding children . Well, i’m a grade 10 student from Sri Lanka(you know, the small country under India). Even though there is a big difference between the way teachers teach you, i like to learn the way you guys do it. Thanks guys!!

    • Your own words don’t have to be Shakespeare – just give it a go and I’m sure whatever you write will be fine. When you’re writing studying notes out in your own words, it’s not so much the actual words you write down that matter, it’s more the act of writing itself that helps to consolidate what you’ve studied. It will also help you figure out where your knowledge gaps are, because if you can’t write something down in your own words, it’s probably because you don’t understand it well enough yet. You can do it!

      • Sometimes writing notes helps me…but for huge syllabus and to learn a book of 700 pages..i dont think writing notes is an easy task..is there any other technique to learn huge book..covering all the topics

  7. I think that this information is really useful, yet it annoys me the fact that if other people are not able to understand your notes there “Wrong” and I am fed up on copying other people’s styles that I don’t understand. So I need a bit of help with this please.

  8. This is actually phenomenal. I am in university now and I am STILL using this method (as I have been for a very long time) it is 100% the best setup I have come across!

  9. hiya thanks a lot they really help scince we’re coming up to exam week with fiveteen exams coming up!! 🙁
    but thankyou very much this will help me and my friends so much to study and not to just cram it all in at the last moment (like last year) :p haha. thnx and i would love it if you could help put up more posts like this please.

  10. Must I write summarised or full notes before exam. Full notes make us understand better.. Is that true.. Pls reply 🙂

    • It’s really up to you! You should do whatever is going to help you understand and retain information most effectively. We all study best in different ways, so if writing out study notes in full helps you, then that’s what you should do. You might find though that summarised notes work just as well. You just have to try and find out! 🙂

  11. thnx for creatin this page and this notes. its very helpfull. if you nevermind, can you tell me are you teaching english?

  12. hey clare.
    i’m in grade 10 and i’m struggling to study as in i don’t know what to write for my notes.
    i write notes in class but writing notes in class is different from study notes..
    what do write as study notes?..

    • Hey there! Great question! Study notes might include the notes that you have written in class, but they might include content from elsewhere – maybe extra things you have learnt whilst you have been studying, diagrams, anything really! Study notes can take whatever form is going to help you understand and retain information most effectively. I write out study notes because it helps me remember content, and it shows me what topics I don’t understand well enough. Study notes also help me see how a subject fits together – they help me see the ‘big picture’.

  13. hi Clare, im a high school student and i follow the Indian syllabus so there’s a lot to study i dont know about the other systems but history is really long and i dont know how to makes notes for history. Can you help me?

    • Hi Emily! It’s a really good question – it’s not obvious what the right way to study for subjects like History is. Having taken History myself at school, I found that writing practice essays was invaluable (although I’m not sure how you’re examined in India – is it essays for History?). But you can build up to writing a full length essay – perhaps one paragraph or topic at a time. My History teacher taught us this great technique for remembering the key points of an essay – maybe it will help you: What you do, is figure out what the key points of your essay are. There might be, say 5 or so in an essay. For each key point (which will be about one paragraph), you assign a letter, and try and make a mnemonic out of the letters. The idea is that you go into the exam knowing that your essay will be built around this mnemonic. Of course you have to practice writing out the essay, but it really helped me remember all of the information that would go into an essay in an exam. Another thing you can try for History study is making mind maps and other types of diagrams. Doing well in History isn’t just about remembering dates and names, the good marks come from understanding the bigger picture – how do the sub-topics relate to one another? What is the greater significance of the event/era/character? And diagrams can be a great way of helping you figure out and remember how the various ‘sub-topics’ fit together and relate to one another. Ultimately what I am saying, is that whether you’re writing notes, writing practice essays, or drawing diagrams, I would try and avoid writing tonnes of notes out unless you understand why what you’re writing about is important, and where it fits in the bigger picture. Otherwise I think you’ll have little chance of retaining the information. Let me know if I’ve just confused you more / if you want more info 🙂

    • There aren’t any hard and fast rules for making study notes, I would suggest just having a go and seeing what works for you. Perhaps start by writing out the things you need to learn and remember, and try a few different things – full sentences, bullet points, diagrams – and see what sticks for you. A bit of trial and error might be required, but you’ll get there!

  14. Oh wow this is perfect. I’ve been looking for some guidance on how to structure my study notes. I’m in senior year so it’s more important to succeed now than ever before. Bookmarking this and will these tips in the future!

  15. Distance Learning Bookkeeping and studying off and on for the past couple of years. Don’t know how to get started writing study notes, as I tend to write more information that is required (enable it to sink in). How to summarise the main subjects into a legible and readable structure – especially when writing up accounts. Very frustrating!!

  16. Pls help me , I have 2 questions for you. Is it better to memorize the words on the textbook before you write notes? My other question is when you are done writing your notes do you memories before highlighting

    • Great questions 🙂 Let me say that ultimately the way you should study should be what works for YOU! You might need to just give things a go and see if they help you or not. There’s no 1 way to study 🙂 But to answer your questions: 1 – Basically no. I don’t think just memorising text books is going to be effective. The purpose of study notes is really important – writing study notes is what should help you to better understand AND remember what you need to know. You might like to read a text book as well for information, and you might like to take that information and write it in your study notes in your OWN WORDS, because doing that will help you to PROCESS and RETAIN that information. 2 – Basically no as well. You should highlight whenever works for you, but I would think it would be helpful to do it as you’re writing your study notes or when you’re reading through them. Highlighting is a memory tool, so use it in a way that helps YOU remember. Best of luck with your study – let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

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