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Nigerian Scholars » Articles » How Handwriting and Note-taking Help You Learn More Effectively

How Handwriting and Note-taking Help You Learn More Effectively


In this article, you will learn about the importance and benefits of handwriting and note-taking in learning. You will also learn some tips for taking better notes while studying.

Pause and Think: “Does taking notes really help?”

Imagine you’re revising for an exam and you pick up the notes you’ve made while preparing for the exam for the past few months. As you glance through the points you made in your notes, you quickly begin to recall all you’ve studied. As a result, you can’t help but feel grateful that you made your own notes. Do handwriting and note-taking help much in learning?

Why handwriting is important?

In today’s digital world, emphasis is gradually shifting to proficiency on the keyboard. As important as typing skills are, research done by psychologists and neuroscientists show that it’s far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and educational development run deep.

How Handwriting and Note-taking Help You Learn More Effectively

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

It has been observed that children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information.

The benefits of writing by hand extend beyond childhood. For adults as well, we learn better whatever we commit to memory through handwriting. Also, our learning ability in general benefits. In the words of Paul Bloom, “With handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important. Maybe, it helps you think better.”

How to Take Better Notes While Learning

In a formal class setting, the average student takes notes at a rate of one word in every three seconds. The average teacher speaks about three words per second. The point is that if you’re trying to copy down everything your teacher is saying during a class or lecture for instance, you’re going to fall seriously behind.

When trying to copy down all the information you’re taking in from a lecture or material, you’re not actually learning much. You’re simply acting as a human recorder. Note-taking should act as a form of learning—something that helps you work your way through the article or study session. It should be done with the aim of helping you better understand the concepts.

Here are two important tips to help you take the kind of notes that will force you to learn the material effectively:

1. Don’t write down facts, write down conclusions

You don’t need to worry about capturing every single thing you’re hearing or reading in writing. Spend more time thinking about and trying to understand what the information you’re taking in actually means or implies.

Ask and write down questions based on what you’ve seen, heard or read. Then, formulate your own answers. This way, you’ll be recording the importance and meaning of the information, and not just raw facts or data. When you do need to include the data, add only the points you think are most important.

How Handwriting and Note-taking Help You Learn More Effectively

Photo Credit: Business Insider

2. Review your notes

Spend a couple of minutes reviewing and organizing your notes after the class or study session. Also review them on a regular basis especially as you learn new related material.

You also want to test your comprehension of your notes. Testing yourself helps you identify what you don’t yet know from your notes. You could also try teaching the material to someone else. This will be a great marker to see if you’ve actually learned the material.

Remember from previous articles, that trying to recall information you’ve taken in improves your ability to recall that information later. In other words, you will be less likely to forget it.


Note-taking and writing are valuable life skills that never lose their utility and importance. Numerous studies over the years have proven this fact. People who take notes remember what they learn better than those who don’t. In fact, a 1970 study by Developmental Psychologist Michael Howe has found that we’re seven times more likely to remember facts one week after hearing them if we write down good notes.

Note-taking is an important skill in and out of school. It can make the difference between passing and failing a test, excelling at a job, solving problems creatively, or even enjoying a complicated movie. So, if you’ve already developed the habit of taking notes, do keep it up. If, on the other hand, you haven’t, you’re actually missing out on the benefits of a very important learning tool.

Happy Learning!


What do you think about the ideas that were shared in this article about the reading effectively? Which of the tips shared do you think would be most helpful in helping you read better? Share your thoughts here!

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