Hooman Katirai earned two masters degrees at MIT and is currently the founder and CEO of his own training company. Cal Newport is a Dartmouth grad, a computer science professor at Georgetown, and the author of several best-selling study skills books. And they both have found a better way for students to take notes.
While the specific steps to each of their methods are different, they share one overarching theme—merely writing down what an instructor says is mindless note-taking, and it doesn’t work. Thinking hard about—and using your notes to help you actually process—what’s being said is active note-taking, and it can dramatically reduce your study time. Newport estimates that for every hour you spend note-taking this way, you’ll shave 20-30 minutes off the study time necessary to get an A on the next exam. You don’t need an advanced math degree to add up those minutes of saved time to see why top students often say they “barely studied” for an exam and still got an A.