Note Taking Tips to Help You Beat Procrastination

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Avni Bali
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As midterms approach, reality hits. As college students, we try to stay on top of things but it seems like we always end up procrastinating a little, or maybe a lot… Over the years as a college student I have learned how to beat the stress of midterms by improving my note taking skills. Here are 4 tips that work for me!


They are the best friend you can make. I always start making cheat sheets a week before my midterm or final. The cheat sheets are simplified notes of what I am reading and learning. I write them in my own words and in a way that best works with me. Taking the important things out of lessons and breaking them down through a cheat sheet helps as a reference guide once I go back to study. It helps me guide my brain through all the information again in a simpler manner!


Make your notes colorful! Use highlighters or different inked pens. Monochromatic does look nice but it tends to blend into one big blurb, making it hard to recognize what is is important or not. With the idea of being colorful, you need to make rules regarding the colors. The key is to have a system. You could use a different color for each chapter.  You could designate one color just for vocabulary. Find a system that works for you.


If cheat sheets don’t work with you, consider outlines. Outlines, handwritten or typed, are literal life savers. It helps compile all the important notes into one and gives you the ability to understand the information in a logical and more organized manner. As you write or type an outline, you end up retaining the information, too! So when you go back to study the outline, your brain has been exposed to the content, making it less stressful to cram.


You don’t need to buy index cards for this. Just take scrap paper and turn that into your flashcards! This technique really comes in handy when the material you’re studying is heavy on definitions and concepts. And, like making outlines, when you make the flashcards you are learning the material. When you start reviewing, you’ll notice increased retention of the definition or concept because you have already read it before. Flashcards are a strong studying tool because they allow you to quiz yourself and they force your brain to remember the answers to each word/question or concept.

All these note taking tips have helped me beat procrastination tendencies and the stress of exams. When you spend time adding color to your notes or creating cheat sheets, outlines and flashcards, you are already studying the content.  Once you begin to prepare for the exam your brain is already familiar with the material. Your study sessions will be more about mastering the content instead of learning it for the first time. There are so many ways out there on how to improve notes; hopefully this can help you on your next exam.


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