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Mind Maps are an effective method of note taking and especially useful for our generation that forms ideas by associations. By using Mind Maps, you can quickly identify and understand the structure of a subject and place various pieces of information together, as well as record raw facts contained in normal notes. Here are a few tips that will help you take notes through mind-mapping most effectively:

1. Start right and maintain your focus
To make a mind map, start in the center of the sheet with the main idea and work outwards in all directions, creating a flourishing, organized structure that sums up the entire subject in brief yet touches upon all aspects. But be careful not to lose focus and do not branch out into an area completely disconnected to your focus area.

2. Always include these essential elements
Any Mind Map, for effectiveness, must comprise the following key features:
Key Words
Grouping or Clustering
Visual Memory Ė Use color, symbols, different fonts, icons, 3D-effects, arrows and outline groups of words
Catchiness - every Mind Map needs a unique center

When drawn keeping these key features in mind, Mind Maps tend to organize information and knowledge very well and take on the same structure as memory itself. Thus, once they are drawn, you seldom need to refer to them again.

3. Create and include as many symbols as possible
Mind Map is the most effective tool for representing associated thoughts with symbols rather than with extraneous words. So go ahead and form your own symbols, stemming from your own very personal associations. This is how it will work - the mind forms associations almost instantaneously and "Mapping" allows you to write your ideas quicker than expressing them using only words or phrases.

4. Do not restrict yourselves with any rules
Mind Mapping is a free flowing personal tool that helps you sum up a subject and create memory. There are no rights or wrongs to the process of drawing an effective Mind Map. The important thing is just to begin and feel comfortable about how you are doing it. You can refine the procedure as you go along. Just keep in mind that you must make an attempt to make it as personal as possible. Derive words and visuals from your own personal associations. Include names of people you know, places you have been to, your own personal jargon, just about anything that will quickly trigger the required thought.

5. Always try to use a combination of words and visuals
Mind Maps are meant to make use of both sides of your brain Ė left and right. The colors, graphics, symbols and the line drawing are part of the creative output- a result of your right brainís workout. The note taking, summing up in words and organization is the analytical side of mind mapping, which is left brainís output. By involving both sides of your brain, you get better retention, achieve more free-flowing ideas and maintain better concentration. Thus, try and create a mind map that uses a good combination of both. However, the ratio of words and visuals can stay flexible and will depend on a personís comfort level with the two. For instance, if you are someone who remembers visuals more than words then go heavy on visuals. If words are your strength then stud your Mind Map with words.

The whole idea is to have fun with you mind mapping exercise so that it gets etched in your head. So go ahead and get started and you will never want to stop.


Key word notes help students in rapid revisions and enable them to take down maximum points during lectures. They are easy to make and can be made for almost every subject and topic. But being careful while making these key word notes is essential so as to ensure that you make notes that you understand quickly later and find easy to assimilate. Here are 5 essential tips to help you make useful key word notes:

1. Use words that summarize the text well
Words important to a definition or a concept must be retained. Words that can trigger an entire paragraph and can lead to detailing of sections are the ones you should use for your notes. For example, if you are studying the French Revolution, your key notes should include Mary Antoinette, 1789-1799, rising bourgeoisie, aggrieved peasants and urban wage-earners, famine and malnutrition, dictatorship, bread and cakes, etc.

2. Donít choose words you donít use often
New words can be difficult to remember so avoid using them for your key word notes. Use words you are more likely to remember. You can even use words that may mean something else but trigger relevant thoughts in your head. For example, coffee may remind you of a specific bird and its chirp in the morning and black board may remind you of a particular mathematical equation. So donít hesitate from forming your own unique key word notes based on your individualistic associations.

3. Create your own abbreviations
Memory cannot hold all data, so itís important to use tools to remember loads of specifics. Abbreviating difficult but important phrases, equations, formulas, etc. can work wonderfully. You can twist a current abbreviation to mean something else. You can even abbreviate an entire definition in about 5 key words by just using the beginning alphabets of each.

4. Use different colored pens to segregate matter
Take advantage of a human beingís tendency to remember snapshots of pages. While making notes, use different colored pens so that those facts written in green, red, blue etc. get etched in your mind as it is. As a result, you may forget a certain definition but remembering that it was written in the top most section of the page in red may trigger a certain word, which could remind you of the whole definition.

5. Use arrows, plus, minus signs and other symbols to communicate
Itís important to make your key word notes short so that you can remember a whole chapter in about a page or even a paragraph. Using symbols such as plus, minus, multiplication, alpha, circles, squares, arrows etc., help in making your notes short and crisp. This also makes it visually easier to understand your notes and quicker to remember.

The idea is to transform your study notes into small stories using these tricks so that revisions are quicker and more effective. Get cracking with those complicated chapters and see the magic key word notes can spin. All the best!




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