• Caitlin

Note Taking: The Pen is mightier than the keyboard

Not to alarm you, but if you’re typing your study notes on a computer, you’re probably doing yourself a disservice. Don’t just take my word for it, the hundreds of studies conducted on this very topic can be summarised quite simply; the pen is mightier than the keyboard. Here’s a run-down of why you should ditch the computer and pick up that ancient artefact we call a pen to boost your academic performance.

1. You'll actually understand the topic.

Here’s the thing, when you’re handwriting study notes you’re stimulating a deeper cognitive process in your brain than if you were to mindlessly type on your computer. This means that you’re more engaged with the content that you’re studying. Now, I know handwriting is a long, and arduous task but this is actually a good thing! Handwriting encourages you to write the content out in your own words, forcing you to think critically about the material so you can summarise the information into bite-sized pieces, making it much more comprehendible – and of course, copying the textbook verbatim will take way too long to write out.

2. You'll actually remember it.

I hear you, you’re on a time crunch! But, handwriting your notes is much more academically efficient than typing – so, you’ll actually retain more information when you handwrite notes which will save you time in the long run because you’ll understand the content much quicker than if you typed them out. Here’s the science behind it, according to a Norwegian study: As I mentioned earlier, the study notes you’ve handwritten are in your own words, so when you re-write that material they act as memory cues which activates your muscle memory allowing you to recall the information that you just wrote in your notes.


3. You have total creative freedom.

There are absolutely no restrictions when it comes to using a paper and pen. You are free to write, draw, mind-map and decorate your study notes however you please! Not only will you have the prettiest study notes in all the land, but using visual cues activates the creative part of your brain, so now you have both sides of your brain working for you which means you’re more likely to retain that information! And, if you’re a visual learner you’ll benefit from this creative freedom.


4. Prepare for handwritten exams

Despite technology taking over the world, your exams are still handwritten. So, writing out your notes strengthens the muscles in your hand so you can write for longer periods of time without getting that nasty hand cramp. Here’s a tip: attach AA batteries to the end of your pen to increase your writing speed (make sure you take the batteries off before the exam though!)


So, dust off your pen and paper and start summarising and synthesising your content the old fashioned, thank me later. On that note, in with the old, and out with the new!



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