Tips on taking notes faster and more efficiently.I am too slow; I am a very hardworker. I don't know when to give up. Ever since i got into school, I would stay awake working hard, to finish up a...

Tips on taking notes faster and more efficiently.

I am too slow; I am a very hardworker. I don't know when to give up. Ever since i got into school, I would stay awake working hard, to finish up a project or studying for a test. Ex: In grade 1/2, on the night before exam, I forgot everything on it and started momorizing again. I have hard time understanding stuff, slow learner. But when I do understand, I thrive in class. In my entire life, I have seen people do much better work than me; even though I put in a lot more time than them. Its heart breaking to see a paper, that you waisted an entire day and night on to finish that got a below average mark, compared to another paper which got almost perfect, that was completed in a very short time. I really put in a lot of time in to my homework. I try to eliminate all distractions. I've a bad counsellor, who tries to kill my motivation. I feel that I can only become one thing and nothing else. I don't know how I got that feeling for the occupation, but its so strong that it makes me feel terrible if I don't achieve it. I have asked teachers for help, those who I trust. One said, they had the same problem, so they dropped out for few years. That's not an option. My parents don't support me, & won't let me, & I don't want to. The other teacher told me, I might have a learning disability. I can't go to write the test, my family & friends are pressurizing me not to. When I think, related things pop in mind, & I could make a strong point, but I can't find right word.

Expert Answers
jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, a couple of thoughts about your emotional state: a) DON'T GIVE UP! b) Even though you should not give up, you must TAKE IT EASY a little bit.  From your message, I can tell that you are quite intelligent, and a pretty good writer.  So cool off, relax, and let things take their own course.  I am confident that you will find a path to success.  It may be completely different than the path you imagine, but you will find it.

Next, a couple of thoughts on note-taking.

The biggest mistake that most students make is that they try to write down everything that the teacher says, and they try to do so in complete, correct sentences.  The key to good note-taking is to listen carefully for the most important point and then write it in a few words, without worrying about proper grammar, spelling, etc.

Let's imagine that your history professor gives a lecture on communism.  She might deliver the following two sentences to define the term "communism":

    a) a form of socialism that abolishes private ownership

    b) a political theory favoring collectivism in a classless    


If you try to copy all of that, you'll soon be lost.  But you can easily write the following:

      Comunism: no priv. ownership, no social classes

Notice that not all the words are spelled corectly, and that there is no complete sentence.

Another tip is to try to pick up on the structure of what the speaker is saying. 

For example, if the professor is comparing and contrasting capitalism and communism, then you can organize your notes in a simple chart.  Just draw a line down the middle of the page and label one column communism and the other capitalism.

If the teacher is describing a process, such as how a bill is moved through Congress, then it's good idea to number the steps.

Sometimes using pictures can be helpful.  If the professor is describing the accomplishments and personality of George Washington, draw a quick picture of G.W.  Then, write short phrases about him around the picture.  If an item corresponds to a particular part of his body, put the phrase there.  For example, if the professor mentions that G.W. was a land surveyor, draw a tape measure next to his hand, and write the words land surveyor.




brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first thing I would say is try not to get discouraged or frustrated.  The things you write about in your question are very common issues I find with my students over the past seventeen years of teaching.  There are some basic things you can do right away to improve focus and mental agility.  One, make sure you get eight hours of sleep per night.  Most students your age are sleep deprived, and it slows brain function.  Since your body is still growing, you need 8 hours.  You'll need less when you're older, but I'd say very few 18 year olds get that kind of sleep.  Secondly, eat well. Avoid foods with too much sugar or caffeine.  Eat a solid breakfast with things like oatmeal, or eggs, orange juice, etc.  Also, peppermint has been proven to stimulate brain function, so take a few with you on test day.

If you do have a learning disability, which is also very common, then there are some simple tests to determine which one it is, and then there are steps to deal with virtually all kinds.  It basically involves retraining your brain to go around the disability.  I have seen many students improve their grades and focus with these strategies.

Lastly, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something with your life.  Whatever you want to.  Counselors are well meaning, but they don't know everything.  This is your life.  Make choices that suit you, and then strive to reach those goals.  Chin up, and good luck.

booksnmore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Can you go back to the teacher that told you that you might have a learning disability and ask him/her to help you explore that possibility? If you do have a disability, it would be nice if you could get some help for that specific condition. You might also ask around at school and see if any teachers are trained in using something called "Brain Gym." You can look it up on-line and read a little about it. I know that it's known to really help kids with learning issues. One of the basic exercises called PACE is even explained on YouTube. If you look for "pace brain gym" you can find instructions on how to do it yourself. It's a brain exercise that helps you prepare for new learning.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You should try to not become frustrated because that makes things much worse.

As far as note taking goes, maybe you should think about purchasing a recorder that you can use in class. This way you can record the lessons and then listen to the lesson, or parts of it, later. If you missed anything while taking notes, you can go back and find what you missed.

If your counselor isn't helping you then you should find someone in your school who will. You may have some sort of disability that is hindering you.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it would be a good idea for you to get testing for learning disabilities. What you describe definitely sounds like a processing issue. It doesn't mean you aren't intelligent--it just means that you process information in ways that make traditional learning difficult for you. Your college or university should have an Office of Disabilities Services (it might be called Student Support of some similar label). They can assist you with testing as well as strategies to help you overcome learning difficulties!

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You need to develop your own shorthard.  Don't write everything down.  Watch the instructor's body language and tone of voice for what's important.  Another great idea is to record your lectures.  Listen to them while you review your notes.  Sometimes you can also add to your notes then.

Wiggin42 | Student

I know its easy to say, but first regain some of your confidence. Those kids who can write A papers in a matter of hours have their own struggles; so there is no point in comparing and making yourself feel worse. Talk to your teacher and show them your notes. They will be able to give you hints on how to take better notes in their class.

zumba96 | Student

Believe in yourself you can do it! I would read over the textbooks and instead of taking notes of everything, take notes of what you feel will help you. Take notes of the main ideas and try to remember the notes outside of class to help your memory. Summarize it in your own words. 

arrellbelle | Student

First things first, believe in yourself, your capabilities, and your intelligence. Understand that at the end of the day, it is only you who can put in all this amount and get something out of it. Also, in order to learn and not simply memorize, I suggest you study after every class. Go over what you went over in class and see if you can piece it together. I like reading the textbook, so maybe that will work for you. Summarize the key points in your own wording and highlight key words. If you have trouble understanding, go research online for examples. Make flashcards of terminology if you have to.

epollock | Student

Talk to your guidance counselor and ask your teachers for help. You might even have an impairment without knowing it so you should be testes just to rule everything out. I would try to work smarter and not harder. Try to become more organized, and don't study things at the last moment.

nusratfarah | Student

There are many good suggestions here. The most important thing you need to do is to practise. Practice would make you perfect. I myself was a weak note-taker and slow writer once. But now, I've been able to make my speed faster by practising a lot.

In order to know how to make a good note or prepare a good essay, you can check the following link:


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krishna-agrawala | Student

It is quite clear from the information given in your question that you are not a very fast learner. This is definitely a disadvantage for you. But your question also indicates the presence of two great advantage you have over the average people. One, you are hard working, and second, you are making sincere efforts to improve.

I do not want to give you false ideas my advice can make things immediately easy or that there are any quick ways to achieve the kind of changes you are trying for. But things can definitely be made easier and faster by adopting the right approach. And this right approach itself is not something that is very simple to understand and learn. Besides, often there are more than one possible good ways, bot not all of them may suit all the persons. So you need something to guide you in more detail than is possible through the medium of eNotes alone.

I suggest that you try to find and read some good books on subjects like right methods of studying and other books on self improvement.

For the time being my comments on some of the points made in your question,

"I don't know when to give up".

Never give up. Just take rest to restore the health of your body and mind, and then get back to your work. Also be identify what is important, and spend more of your time and energy on more important thing.

"Its heart breaking to see a paper, that you waisted an entire day and night on to finish that got a below average mark,"

Remember that grades is not the only measure of learning. When you have put in so much efforts, you have definitely learnt something. Your efforts in studying are never wasted. You will definitely benefit from this learning, although you yourself may not know how.

"I've a bad counsellor, who tries to kill my motivation".

It would definitely been nice if the counsellor was more helpful. But you cannot change the counsellor. So stop looking for encouragement or motivation from the counsellor. Become self motivated.