The art of taking class notes | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 09, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 09, 2017

The art of taking class notes

Taking hand-written notes is a lost art in the current digital era. Thankfully, owing to our “digital” country's reluctance in converting our classroom into a digital ecosystem, the art is not yet obsolete in this part of the world.

So here I am, an avid note-taker, trying to make a case for this waning art and dropping tips and tricks as to how to master this exotic artform.

You are probably thinking at this point, “What a nerd!” Well, you are definitely not wrong but that is exactly the point. Thanks to the recent mainstream popularisation of nerds through pop culture, nerd IS the new cool. So, you do not want to miss out on becoming the go-to nerd for your entire class. But if instant popularity is not a compelling enough reason and you are a man of reason, hear this out: it helps you stay awake in class. 

Now that I have convinced you to take notes here are 5 useful tips that might help you turn your notebook into an aesthetic art piece. So, students, take note.

Go prepared: As they say, “Preparation is half the battle”. We tend to wake up on the wrong side of the bed way too often especially before our morning classes. We then continue being as grumpy as Garfield on a Monday morning and refuse to accept the wretched education that makes us haul ourselves to class. In order to be a master note-taker, you need to be obnoxiously eager like Spongebob instead. Sit on that deserted front seat to render yourself incapable of casually zoning out. Once you realise you cannot do anything better, taking notes does not feel all that bad. 

Keep an open mind: Once you have forced yourself to be prepared, you are now ready to start taking notes. But remember, always keep an open mind. Do not just jot down the points from the slides and whatever is explicitly stated. Keep a keen open mind to pick out the smallest things from the lectures. Even if your Economics teacher for some reason unknown goes on a philosophical rambling adventure and says vague things like “If the goal is the destination, then the mean is the road”, be open to noting it down - or perhaps tattooing it on your forearms if required.

Be a good listener: Mastering the art of listening not only opens up your chances of becoming a master at the Citadel but also equips you with the inevitable life lesson. To quote Plutarch, “Learn how to listen and you will prosper even from those who talk badly”. So do not be that annoying person who keeps interrupting a lecture and asks to repeat every 5 minutes. Listen to what the teachers have to say and summarise the key points once they are over a small significant portion of the topic. Understand first and then jot the ideas. Otherwise you will miss a lot of important takeaways. 

Make your own canvas: Treat your notebook like a meticulously crafted masterpiece. Use multiple header styles for different layers of headers, different bullet points for topics and sub-topics, illustrations, arrows and markings to create a clear image of the content. You can even use your intense lettering skills from years of calligraphy on Instagram and Pinterest to embellish your notes. Keep separate notebooks for each subject for consistency and clarity. 

Review and share your notes: Once you are done with taking notes it is important to review and edit (If necessary) after class. Rechecking spellings of difficult proper nouns is essential. When you are done with reviewing, share your class notes. Is sharing necessary? No, but a fully functioning decent human being should share good things. So, share away.

“The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.” So you could try these easy steps out. Or, you know, just sleep through all of it.

Nafis Imtiaz Onish believes grinning is the answer to everything and avidly loves art, astronomy & all things nerdy. Send him Carl Sagan fan art at

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