GED® Study Guide: Taking Notes

Getting ready for the GED test? Taking an adult education course? Whether you're attending local classes, taking online GED classes, or managing a self-study program at home with a free course or study guide, you'll want to make sure your study time is effective.

Make a note! Here's one surefire study tip that has proven successful for adults working toward the GED certificate:

Take Notes

For many GED test-takers and adult learners, taking notes seems boring or tedious, or they can't see the relevance of taking notes. Learners often juggle a lot of study materials from classes or online. They don't feel a need to add more to the pile with their own notes.

For other GED students, taking notes is new. They're reluctant to take notes because they've never learned the skill and don't know how to apply it to online classes, local courses, or using a study guide.

But taking notes is easy and effective. It just starts as a practice and soon becomes a skill. Taking notes ensures learning when it's a three-part process. And, taking notes is a critical way to shift new information that's learned from the brain's short-term memory bank to the brain's knowledge vault.

Note-Taking Step 1: Take Them!

At first, many people feel like they're copying or jotting material just for the sake of it. It's difficult for them to see how taking notes helps them learn. It may seem like a mindless activity. Still, it's important. Just write down information as you move through material on your own or during classes. The act of taking notes engages you with the study material beyond just hearing, reading, or seeing information. When you take an action, more of your brain needs to turn on. You're doing something, so you're focusing more.

Just as note-taking improves with practice, so does learning. As notes are taken more frequently and regularly, students begin to recognize key information and main points more easily and more often. Note-taking becomes more logical since the act of taking notes engages the logical processing of the brain. When the logical brain becomes engaged, the learning process is activated and information is better retained.

Note-Taking Step 2: Organize Them!

The second part of taking notes is organizing them. Do it soon after taking them. How do you organize notes? Put them in logical order, or an order that makes the most sense to you. Highlight, circle, or underline important information. As you review and organize your notes, the information from the notes is refreshed in your mind and organized mentally. Again, the logical brain is engaged. You'll remember more of what you learned in your local or online GED class.

Note-Taking Step 3: Reinforce Them!

You reinforce the learning process by reinforcing your notes. Fill in any missing information. Make a list of the key words from your notes. List any problems you're having with the material, or identify sections in your notes where the material seems unclear. Make an outline of the information so that you see the relationship of ideas and facts to each other. Make another list or outline that includes all the information you feel you've really learned. Determine how you can use this new knowledge in real-life situations. Now, review material that was unclear, and you'll probably discover that it's clearer.

You can research some of your unanswered questions, and when you find the answers, you'll remember them better.

Taking notes is neither an art nor a science. But the learning process is both. Learning isn't really about remembering, and knowledge isn't about memorization. Real learning and real knowledge are about activating, using, and engaging higher brain processes, which is exactly what happens during the three-step process of taking notes.

At GED test time, your note-taking will pay off. Processing information logically and identifying key words and main ideas are major parts of the GED test. So taking notes is an important skill for both study time and test time.


Clara Aiza, Educator


Prepare for the GED