I discovered the effectiveness of this note-taking technique during my Civil Services exam preparation.
At that time, I barely had 1.5 months for the preliminary exam. So this is what I did – I would read the questions from the question bank one by one, evaluate the answer options, try to answer, and then look at the right answer. I would then quickly scribble what I understood on paper.
Every day, I would consume reams of paper and then throw away the notes I took, which were illegible anyway. But that didn’t matter – my note-taking was not to revise later but just a learning technique.
This probably improved the absorption of my study material five-fold.
And the reason this works is twofold:
1. When we are just reading, we are in a passive state where our mind often wanders and is not fully engaged. But when you are writing, it engages your attention fully.
2. When we take these notes, we force our brain to reproduce what we just learned. It quickly solidifies our learning and almost serves as an instant revision.
It looks so simple because it is. But the simplest things in life are also often the most powerful.
Try this out and decide for yourself.