If you write your notes by hand, you’ll do better in exams than if you type them

US boffs find that typing up notes in lectures is bad for your memory


Students who make handwritten notes in their lectures perform better in their exams than those who use a laptop or tablet.

According to research from Princeton and UCLA, typists take down more notes in a lecture than students using pen and paper, but they struggle to remember the details as easily.

Interestingly, this finding is nothing to do with internet access and being distracted by Facebook, but is instead because laptop users merely type as much of what they hear as possible without thinking it through.

By contrast, students writing their notes out by hand will actively think about what they’re hearing and are more likely to think points through and attempt to summarise them in their writing.

The vibe

The vibe

Jess Brookes, a second year Historian at King’s College London, told us she agrees with the idea that hand-written notes are the best way to retain information.

“I take notes by hand, and I think it helps me because I’m more focused on what I’m working on. Also, the process of writing notes out helps me retain the information more effectively, probably because it requires more concentration.”

With lecture notes like these, it’s almost impossible to fail

However, don’t go throwing your MacBook Pro away just yet, as this study only tested the memory recall of students a week after the lecture.

It is unclear if the results would be as clear over the nine month stretch between the first lecture of the year and the crucial summer exam period.

After all, nothing is worse than trying to decipher illegibly scrawled lecture notes six months after you’ve written them,