Beyond Note Taking: Tips to Commit Lessons to Memory

There are plenty of guides and articles available today that offer guidance on how to study more effectively, or memorize information for exams – but few that offer tips on how to absorb more information during an actual lesson.

For students who find it difficult to focus during those early-morning classes, taking in the most valuable points of a class can be a very difficult task.

Learning is a very individual process, and chances are that what works for you may not be the same as what works for your friends, or even your parents.

Following, we’ll cover some of the best ways that you can improve your chances of absorbing information effectively during your lessons and lectures – regardless of what your next class might entail.

1.    Learn as Though You’re Waiting for a Pop Quiz

One good way to ensure that you’re learning as much as possible during a lesson is to pay attention to what’s being said in your class. Even the tiniest break in your focus could mean that the information you’re given doesn’t settle properly into your brain.

While maintaining focus is a matter that’s largely down to individual dedication and willpower, it can also help to convince yourself that you’re going to need to answer questions on the topic at the end of your class. For instance, if you believe that your teacher is going to ask you about what you’ve learned at any moment during a lesson, then you’re far more likely to pay attention, and often less likely to procrastinate.

2.    Participate in the Class

Most of the time, active learning is far more effective than passive learning. If you’re dedicated enough to immerse yourself within the learning experience as it is given to you, this should help you to stay focused and ensure that your brain is well prepared to absorb information through a multi-sensory experience.

There are plenty of great ways that you can go about participating in your learning experience, from getting involved with teams and group work to asking various questions during the lecture. Remember:

  • Do your best to answer questions when your teacher asks them – and don’t panic about being wrong. Learning often starts with having a few incorrect ideas.
  • When you’re split into teams or groups to complete larger activities, don’t allow other people to do all of the work. Engage your fellow students, ask questions, and offer your opinions on different matters.
  • Set aside time to speak to your teacher if you’re confused. If you really don’t understand a lesson and feel as though you need extra help, schedule some time to talk to your teacher at the end of the lesson when she or he won’t be distracted by other students.

3.    Take Notes

If you really struggle to absorb information the first time it’s given to you, then taking detailed notes gives you a second, third, and fourth opportunity to learn. Taking notes not only forces you to think about the material you’re learning – often helping you to find quick ways of paraphrasing important data, but it also gives you a great framework of information to study from later.

Remember that taking good notes doesn’t mean that you should simply copy down everything that your lecturer is saying. Instead, you should aim to copy down the broad outline, with specific information only as, and when you know it’s important. Note any major facts that you might have a hard time understanding, or that you know you won’t remember without help.

4.    Build a Nurturing Environment for Learning

If you find that your lab partner is a pain to be around, or all of your time spent studying is in front of a blaring television, then chances are you’re going to have some trouble with absorbing information.

You’ll need to search for a quiet environment that you can use specifically for studying if you want to give your brain the best chance of achieving great things. Having a distraction-free environment allows you to bypass procrastination and learn in a practical, and effective way.

If the classroom environment is a problem, then you may need to ask your teacher for help, or simply move seats to another part of the room. If your home environment or dorm room is the problem, then you’re going to need to track down other options for studying – such as a library.

5.    Work with Your Unique Learning Style

You’ve probably heard the term “learning style” before. In simple terms, learning styles represent the different ways in which our brains can absorb information. There are a wide range of different learning styles out there, and while many people can learn using every different learning style – there’s often one or two that will work best for you.

Often, you’ll find that you can take online tests that might help you to get a better understanding of what your learning style may be. Once you know what works for you, you can address your learning style with your teacher, and adapt it to your study habits. For example:

  • If you remember things better when listening to them, rather than reading information from a book, it might be useful to take a sound recorder and record difficult lessons that you can play back to yourself during study sessions.
  • If you learn better when examining graphs and charts, then you might be a visual learner who can study best by drawing up their own infographics to ensure that they remember information better.
  • If you’re constantly tapping your foot during class, or finding that you feel the need to move – you could be a physical learner. In this case, it might help to fiddle with a small object during class or going for walks when you study.

Learning what your most effective learning style is and adapting your studying techniques to follow that pattern is sure to help you absorb information better in a long-lasting and successful way. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different learning styles to find the one that suits you.

Using these five tactics should help you to more easily be able to absorb and retain what you are learning in class.