Can You Study Without Taking Notes? (Important Facts)

We all know that taking notes is very helpful when it comes to studying. Even though it helps, it’s still a tedious activity.

We as humans often try to make things as simple as possible, and for some of us, taking notes is not a simple thing at all. 

So, what if you could still study, but without all of the annoying note taking?

Let’s explore this topic below. 

Here’s why you can’t study without taking notes:

The effort that note-taking requires improves your learning. That’s right; quality notes can help you achieve better grades. More importantly, though, they also help you learn and understand the topic you are studying. Instead of passively taking information in, the act of writing (or typing) makes it easier for data to enter your long-term memory.  

taking notes

Additionally, reviewing your notes, later on, allows you to reinforce what you learned during the lecture. It’s the fastest, most convenient way to achieve your honor roll goals.

Is It Okay Not To Take Notes?

Of course, it’s okay not to take notes. After all, we all learn things differently. Some of us are visual learners, some are auditory learners, and some are kinesthetic learners.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to learning.

However, before you skip taking notes, check out these ScienceDirect research figures:

  • A whopping 92.1% of students reported taking notes to absorb information better.
  • Additionally, 94.5% of participants take notes to gather material for exams.

If you do take notes, make sure you do it right. Here are 5 common mistakes you can avoid:

Writing, Just to Write

We’re all guilty of performing this first mistake. Sometimes, during lectures, we tend to write down everything we can without really understanding a topic. Doing this can get you more stuff on paper and make you feel productive — but you’ll end up not understanding what you wrote in the first place.

Before you take notes, stick to what you learned about a topic. Don’t write anything your future self won’t appreciate. Doing so guarantees you don’t waste your note-taking minutes.

Taking Note of Everything

We know how tempting it is to write down everything teachers say. After all, all topics they cover may be included in tests or exams. The truth is, though, only a small percentage of lectures end up in tests, so it’s better to understand topics than write everything word-for-word.

The secret to excellent note-taking is to come prepared. If you know the topics your teachers will discuss, try to imagine the topic’s bigger picture. When in doubt, stick to information that matters.

overwhelmed taking notes

Failing To Organize Notes

Sometimes, we end up with pages upon pages of just a mess of notes. The common culprit for these situations is disorganized ideas. When you find the time, it’s best to rewrite your first drafts to create concise and structured data. 

This is also excellent reviewing. As you rewrite and organize your notes, you will recall much of what you were taught or read. It will help you memorize whatever you need to learn and understand. 

If you find this part of note-taking difficult, try using note templates to get you on the right track. You can choose among several free downloadable options on the internet to help you take your notes to the next level. Here are 2 great choices from Evernote and Paperlike

Highlighting (Almost) Everything

The goal of highlighting text is to draw attention to high-value information. When done right, it allows you to pick essential parts of your notes that you can review later. However, whether we admit it or not, most of us end up highlighting almost whole pages.

Before you unleash your highlight-happy habits, read whole sections of text first. This practice gives you time to digest segments and decide which takeaways to highlight.  

Reviewing Only One Day Before Needing to Know the Information

Do you only review your notes a day before a big test? Well, that’s not the best way to use the information you wrote.

Instead of cramming for a test, try reviewing your notes for only 30 minutes every night. Doing so can make a massive difference in your studying efforts. Keep up this practice until it turns into a habit.

Recommended Reading: How to improve note taking skills

How Can I Study Without Taking Notes?

So far, we’ve given you reasons to take notes and tips on how to do it right. However, if you prefer other study methods, we can still help you achieve desirable results. Check out a few of them below.

Find Ways To Apply What You Learned

One of the most effective ways to remember a lecture is to apply what you learned in real life. For example, if you learn how to make elephant toothpaste from chemistry class (the foam produced when combining hydrogen peroxide and potassium), try recreating the experiment.

By applying what you learned in a different setting, you transform the information into an experience. This process boosts your chances of remembering what you learned in class. 

Try the Feynman Technique

Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman created the Feynman Technique — a method for learning and internalizing particular topics. You can try it on your own, with a study buddy, or in a group. It consists of four steps:

  • Study: The first step is a straightforward one. Simply pick a topic and start reading up on it. 
  • Teach: After learning about a subject, teach it to someone else. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of others, share what you know with an imaginary audience. 
  • Fill the gaps: When you teach others (or an imaginary audience) about what you learned, you will undeniably discover holes in your lessons. The next step in this method is to review what you know, this time focusing on the information gaps. 
  • Simplify: After filling the data gaps, cut away clutter and explain the topic so that even young children can understand. Doing so helps you master your new knowledge. 

Ask the Right Questions

After reading up on a particular topic, you can create a self-quiz and ask yourself the right questions. Like with the Feynman Technique, the ultimate goal is to find gaps in the information you store. After pinpointing the cracks in your knowledge, you can brush up on the elements you missed.

At times, you may feel like reading up once is enough. However, if you ask yourself the right questions, you can objectively gauge your skill level.

Enhance Your Memory

Unfortunately for us, only 0.25 – 1.00% of the population falls under the genius category. If you’re part of the non-genius majority, it’s best to revisit content for around 30 minutes daily to enhance your memory.

Additionally, take the time to comprehend a topic. Your brain needs multiple chances and revisions to retain random information. Still, it can hold concepts you understand faster and for longer periods.

Get Enough Rest

Sometimes, our bodies give us clues about when they need breaks. For instance, if you feel you can’t concentrate on a book or an article, it might be a sign that your body needs a pause for a while.

Also, no matter how soon exam season is, remember to get enough rest. As we sleep, our brains remove unnecessary pieces of information and replay vital ones.  

online course note taking

Recommended Reading: How to improve general knowledge

Why Take Notes In Class?

We’re all for taking notes, but if we haven’t convinced you how crucial this activity is yet, keep reading for its benefits.

Keep Yourself Alert

Whether you’re attending a lecture in school or reading a textbook at home, taking notes keeps you alert. It allows you to pay more attention to your lessons, helping you understand them on a deeper level.

Enhance Your Learning

When you take notes, you actively retain and reinforce information bits. This process is a better learning tool than passively listening to your professor and letting data slip from your mind. When you listen, understand, and write about a topic, you boost your chances of remembering your lessons.

Create Custom Record of Learning Sessions

When you take down notes, you document unique information you might not find anywhere else. For instance, you can include pro tips from lecturers or valuable insights from your classmates.

Overcome Distractions

We all have time-wasters that take up more of our day than necessary, from saying yes to everything to endless Instagram scrolling to constantly checking emails. When you assign dedicated study hours, you can focus on reading, understanding, and rewriting your notes to overcome distractions.

However, don’t take such distractions away from your day if they make you happy. Instead, treat yourself to social media time or video call sessions when you finish your study session.

Strengthen a Life Skill

Whether you’re taking high school, college, master’s, or doctorate lessons, note-taking skills can help you achieve your education goals. The sooner you master it, the sooner you can make studying more enjoyable.

Recommended Reading: Is self learning hard?

Achieve Your Education Goals With Exceptional Note-Taking

Whatever course you’re taking, one of the most convenient ways to achieve your education goals is by taking your note-taking skills to the next level. As we mentioned, taking great notes provides you with various benefits.

If you feel like taking notes is too tedious, we ask you to reconsider. Sure, there are other ways to study, but taking notes works wonders for individuals with different learning preferences. The process takes some getting used to, but we guarantee the results are worth it.

To learn more about creating high-quality notes, read more on the topic here. We can’t wait to help you ace this habit!