Why does writing my own notes help me learn?


In his book, Why Don’t Students Like School? (£17.99, Jossey-Bass) psychologist Prof Daniel Willingham says that “memory is the residue of thought”. We remember the things we think about, not necessarily the things we are told.

When you write notes in your own words, you force yourself to reframe someone else’s ideas into a form that you can concisely express on paper. This mental effort increases the chance of this information being transferred to your long-term memory later.

Many studies have found that handwritten notes, particularly those with arrows, diagrams and margin doodles, improve information retention. Typing is quicker, but it is too repetitive and mechanical to stimulate your focus and attention.

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Asked by: Sara Bjelanovic, age 14, London

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