BlogStudyHow to Take Effective HSC Notes During Class For Ultimate Memory Retention

How to Take Effective HSC Notes During Class For Ultimate Memory Retention

I listen, I hear, I read and then I forget.

This is what happens to most students when it comes to listening in class. And so, that’s why taking effective HSC notes during class plays a crucial role in retaining what you have learnt!

According to Walter Pauk, a reading and writing researcher, people lose their retention at the following rates:

  • 20 minutes: 47% of information learnt is forgotten
  • 1 day: 62% of information learnt is forgotten
  • 2 days: 69% of information learnt is forgotten
  • 75 days: 75% of information learn it forgotten

As you can see, it only takes about 20 minutes to forget half of what you’ve learnt! But that’s why we’re here to take you through how to make the best possible notes from a lesson for ultimate memory retention!

Step 1: Come prepared
Step 2: Be an active listener 
Step 3: Paraphrase information 
Step 4: Make sure you HSC notes are legible 

Step 1: Come prepared

As simple as this may sound, the first step is to be prepared to take notes.

First of all, make sure you sit in an area where you can see and hear clearly. This allows you to absorb the information you’re hearing as best as possible, which increases the efficiency of taking notes.

Also always remember to bring your pens, notebooks and any other equipment you require to take notes before the lesson.

If you intend to take notes by hand, you should bring an A4 sized notebook with plenty of blank pages as well as 3 pens of different colour (black, blue and red).

If taking notes using laptop suits you more, make sure your laptop is fully charged each day. In addition, close all distractions such as Facebook or YouTube prior to the lesson – just to make sure you’re not tempted.

However, it is highly recommended that you actually take notes by hand!

The benefits of hand writing your HSC notes are as follows:
  • It allows you to really process the information
  • It forces you to engage with the material as you learn to pick out the most important and relevant information
  • It improves your writing speed and handwriting during exams

Step 2: Be an active listener

When note-taking, make sure you don’t mindlessly transcribe every single word said in the lesson, without really understanding what you actually wrote down.

This will lead to confusion and pain in reading your HSC notes when you are reviewing them later.

As a result, you should try to absorb the information you’re hearing the first time. Not only will this shorten the amount of information you are taking down, but also speeds up the process of reviewing your notes.

If you are having any trouble understanding what is being said in class, always ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher/lecturer to repeat themselves or explain the information in more detail.

Step 3: Paraphrase information

The most important thing when writing your HSC notes is to paraphrase information in a clear and succinct way.

But how do you paraphrase?
  1. Only take down relevant information: Write down individual words or key phrases that are most relevant to the topic
  2. Use shorthand: Eliminate all filler words and secondary details. Try to abbreviate long words which are important, but already familiar to you
  3. Prioritise new information: Don’t waste time writing down information that you already know. Focus on writing down any new information that you’ve never learned before

Step 4: Make sure your HSC notes are legible

Taking notes will be a complete waste of time if you can’t read them afterwards!

You’ll also be reluctant to go back and study your notes if they are messy, disorganised and difficult to read.

Here are some tips on creating visually appealing HSC notes:
  • Organise your notes: Start a fresh, blank page for each lesson or new topic and put the date in the top right hand corner.
  • Write neatly: Make sure your writing is small, neat and legible, and avoid using fancy handwriting if possible. If you are a messy hand writer, avoid using an inky pen.
  • Use wide margins: Line each page with a pen and ruler, giving yourself a wide margin on the left hand side so that you have space to add any additional information once you review your notes.
  • Use appropriate headings: Always use headings and subheadings for each topic so you can easily look through your notes.
  • Add symbols and diagrams: Things like arrows, dots and boxes, diagrams, charts, and other visual aids are good ways to represent and simplify key concepts

And that wrap up our tips on how to write the best HSC notes – now it’s time to review and keep editing your notes!

Looking for some extra help with your HSC studies?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today!

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!

Yifan Shen completed his HSC in 2014 and is currently studying the Bachelor Of Economics/Advanced Mathematics at UNSW. Apart from nutting out equations and helping out students with their academic pursuit, you will find him either reading thriller novels or introducing a range of new people to the intricate and mysterious world of mathematics as the marketing representative of UNSW MathSoc. When he is drained from all of these work, you will also see him hiking, planking and water bending in his recovery mode.


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