Studying Smart: Handwritten or Digital Notes?

Written by: Mandy Ngoh

With the rise of technology, more and more students are ditching pens and paper for laptops or tablets with a portable keyboard (if you’re one of those few). But are students doing themselves a disfavour by opting the cyber attention sucker? Let U-insight break it down for you.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Handwritten Notes

  1. Better Retention

According to this study published in 2011, “when writing by hand, the movements involved leave a motor memory in the sensorimotor part of the brain”. The act of tracing alphabets with your hands leave a deeper impression on your brain then pressing on a bunch of squares with letters decorated on them. Sorry folks, it’s more pain more gain when it comes to studying.

2. Less Distraction

I can’t be the only one jumping to Facebook for memes when the professor’s lecture is going way beyond my intellectual faculties or is just too boring. Keeping your handphones and laptops away while listening to lectures has to be the most important and hardest study skill to date.

3. Easier to doodle

When studying topics with plenty of symbols like Chemistry and Maths, writing the divide sign is simply three strokes, but looking for ÷ ≜∞∑ may require the help of Google.

4. Filtered information

Since writing is slower than typing, you are more likely to sieve for the essentials than copying wholesale. In a way, you have already organised your notes.

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Digital Notes

  1. Convenience

With digital notes, organising has never been easier. It’s also faster to type things down – handwritten notes can be painfully slow and cumbersome, especially when you have that one professor who speaks too fast for his own good. Plus, you’re doing your duty towards environmental sustainability. Ringfiles and hole-punchers? Say what? Stop killing trees.

2. Legibility

Some of our scrawls are so atrocious that they are worse than a doctor’s scribble. In that case, just stick to your laptop. Arial or Times New Roman will be your go-to.

3. Accessibility

Study on the fly while you are waiting in line for food or enduring a boring train ride. It can be tough to lug notebooks around at times.

With all that being said, should we copy notes by hand or should we type out our notes? Honestly, it is really up to you, despite what the scientists have recommended. Find out what you’re most comfortable with and stick to it. Or you can do both! Handwriting notes during class, then typing them out later is a great way for you to reprocess and synthesise information. Your grades will thank you nonetheless.

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