Passing your biology class is about 70% attributable to how accurately you take down notes. You heard it right, note taking is more than just an act of scribbling letters and numbers on paper, it is your study reference and knowledge source, particularly at times when the lecture information isn’t found in textbooks. If you haven’t learned the skill yet, here’s how to take biology notes the right way:
Familiarize With the Material Beforehand
Your professor must have given you a study guide or a topic before the actual lecture. Take advantage of the opportunity to study and get familiar with the material in advance. This way, the terms and concepts do not appear foreign anymore. It is then easier to grasp the lecture information and filter out what is essential and what is not.
Some people find it hard to write while listening. It’s okay, note taking is a skill anyway, it can be learned along the way. Practice transcribing random audio materials during your free time. By doing so, you become better in coping with the lecture pace, in not losing focus amidst distractions, and in selecting the right information to jot down.
Biology topics are filled with terminologies way too complex and concepts too long to follow through when explained verbally. Seek to understand the lecture but when you can’t, write anyway. Even if your spelling is incorrect and your penmanship is not aesthetically pleasing, write anyway. Later, you will have the time to compare notes, research, and then correct the mistakes, if there are any. Focus on the main points, but do not ignore random details shared by your professor.
Learn to Draw Figures
Sometimes, explanations written in words are lengthy. Take the easier, more graphical way and learn to draw figures, graphs, and characters during note taking. When the parts of a neuron are discussed thoroughly during class, draw the neuron and label the parts and functions. When the topic is about cell division, try your best to draft graphically the stages of mitosis. Again, you will have an ample time to review, revise, and improve your notes after the lecture.
Ask Permission To Record
Recording the lecture is ideal as you will have a raw audio to revisit every time you seek a clarification, but unfortunately not every professor agrees to this. So to avoid getting scolded, ask permission first. Even when it’s tempting to record secretly, don’t risk it. If your professor allows you, consider yourself lucky and maximize your resource material by transcribing the recording.
Rewrite Your Notes
The notes taken with the lecture ongoing still form part of your draft. You still need to rewrite the draft as you review the content, polish the spelling, revise the flow perhaps, rephrase using your own words, and improve the figures. The re-writing phase is critical as apart from correcting the errors, you are, to a certain extent, studying as you re-write. You are committing to memory and facilitating easy recall on the words, concepts, and figures, as studies show. So invest time and effort in re-writing your raw notes. Personalize it and re-write shortly after the lecture, while your memory is still fresh.
Diligently following the steps of note taking above will get you through your biology class. All the process requires is perseverance and hard work. Don’t worry if you can’t perfect everything initially, you’ll get better in time.