Tips from a Mission Viejo English Tutor: 5 Note-taking Tips for High School Freshman

Freshman year in high school is a huge transition perhaps second only to that of moving on to college. There are higher expectations in general, and teachers expect students to ask them for help if they’re lost rather than reach out to students who they think might need help. Once in high school students will be expected to read more text in their math and science classes and read several novels in their English classes, while retaining this information for cumulative exams later in the year. With all of this new information to remember it’s extremely important to develop excellent notation skills. Some teachers will go over how best to take notes, or at least go over a few popular methods. However, students will have to determine independently which method works best for them. Until they do they are missing out on some really valuable skills that can help them understand new material, review past material, and get higher grades overall. Here are five note-taking tips from a Mission Viejo English Tutor.


1. Put things in your own words

One thing most students should do but often fail to do is to put things in their own words. Students who write down phrases from a textbook verbatim will generally not remember the information at all. Unless freshmen can take these notes into the test with them, which is rare in high school, they will have wasted a bunch of time. Instead, students should take the time up front to write phrases in their own words. If they can’t do this, it’s a sign that they don’t really understand the information and they should probably look to their teacher or tutor for help (READ: “A Student’s Guide to Study Breaks”).

2. Use bullet points

For many students, writing things in paragraph format can become overwhelming and distract them from the task at hand. Using bullet points or other notation formatting can help students write down information quickly and effectively while still keeping their notes clear and easy to read later on. With practice, students will find a balance of the correct amount of things they need to write down and which information is important for the exam.

3. Stay organized

Taking excellent notes is only helpful if the student can maintain basic organization. If note cards and papers are stuffed at the bottom of a backpack or find their way to the trash too quickly, the notes won’t be any help at all. When students have finished studying for an exam or have completed a chapter in their text book they are encouraged to put them in a separate binder for past assignments where they keep all their notes. Then, when it comes time to study for the midterm or final exam they will have all their notes ready and available to them at a glance.

4. Put information in plain language

Many students new to high school will write down notes using the jargon that their text book or novel did. The point of taking notes is to make the assignment easier, not more difficult. Jargon is difficult to deal with when first presented and is just as tricky when it comes time to study. Thus, it’s important for students to write their notes down in plain language using vocabulary words they currently understand. Although students will need to broaden their vocabulary and understand new terms and phrases; their personal notes should always be easy to read (READ: “10 Study Tips from an Irvine History Tutor”).

5. Never throw away your notes

It’s very tempting for students to rip up and throw away their notes once their quiz has been completed. Unfortunately, many students find out later on that their final exam encompasses that novel from two months ago. Students who have thrown away their notes will have to work with their study group or tutor to take duplicate notes all over again or risk doing poorly on the test. However, students who have saved and organized their notes will be able to spend an hour or so looking back at them rather than several hours redoing the assignment. Students should keep all their notes until they have gotten their final grades for every class at the end of the academic year in June.

Our experienced Mission Viejo private tutors are masters at note-taking. Call us today to book your academic tutor from TutorNerds.

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