The Student's Guide to Doodling

Sorry, did I say doodling? I meant taking notes. Wait, what do you mean, they're the same?

Actually, they are.

But before we go on, credit where it's due: this blog post was inspired by this post by the lovely Rona Wang on Blogger, Wattpad, Figment and Twitter. And now, the actual post ...

1. Don't use your hands.

Chill, I'm not telling you to hold your pen with your teeth. But find out your school's policy on laptops and tablets, because it's so much faster to not only type, but also spellcheck, italicise, bold, or instantly search for any weirdo things the teacher might say.

At least, try to persuade the teacher to send you the teaching materials and exercises after class. Not only does this save time in trying to figure out what "Carbon :D :D" is supposed to mean in your notes, it also neatly avoids problem (2).

2. Don't use your imagination.

By this, I mean no doodling. Believe it or not, it's normally something in the material that sparks a random thought, which leads you on a dozen tangents before you start redrawing the characters of Sherlock as sheep.

That example, by the way, was found in my physics notes last week; after an hour of staring confusedly at vectors and forces and acceleration, I realised a question on a ball falling to the ground suggested the ideas of buildings, falling, etc. (Attempting avoid spoilers here!) Which then led to season 2 of Sherlock, and then hence my doodles.

So focus on what the subject matter is about. Don't try to associate too much with other things when you're taking the notes.

3. Don't use your brain — okay, moderate usage of.

It is, of course, important to sort of know what you're doing. But there comes a point when, say, the teacher will tell you lichen is sensitive to air pollution. Being an inquisitive critical thinker, you immediately wonder why and analyse the previous diagrams showing the structure of lichen. By the time you come up with a vague and probably incorrect theory, the teacher has moved on to bread mould, and you've completely missed the exam-important points regarding that.

So save the questions for revision, not halfway through note-copying. Especially since teachers tend to interpret staring-off-into-the-air as daydreaming, not considering the validity of their sources. Because that's totally what you're doing, right? Right?

4. Don't use your ego.

Form alliances. I realise this point comes up quite a few times in the Student's Guide series, but it is important. Have a partner always copy a ppt slide from the bottom up while you start from the top, or vice versa. Personally, I prefer copying the lower points because (a) most people start from the top and you can find your missing points more easily and (b) teachers have this funny habit of leaving important points to the end.

Better yet, recruit a bunch of friends and form an alliance to enact point 1: cajole the teacher into sending you the teaching materials and more importantly, the suggested answers.

Or just find a friend who's good at hacking and have them steal the future exam papers. Don't forget to introduce me!

That's it for today: please do leave a comment whether you laughed to death, were shocked by my ridiculous comments, or simply awesome enough to make my day by saying hi :D And don't forget to subscribe for more random morbid insanity!


  1. XD These are great tips! I never thought about writing from the bottom up before! That's a great idea!

    I think I manage to do your suggestions well enough, unconsciously, although sometimes when words are too long I try to write the shorter word in Spanish to help me out. Sometimes it work. Sometimes it doesn't.

    1. Oh yes, I sometimes use English to take notes for Chinese class too, it's a great method :) Unfortunately, my translation skills are on par with Google Translate's, so it leads to some interesting complications during revision, hehe.

  2. Ah, students in my school take the "hack the computer, find exams" tip seriously.

    I sent my friend this post and she said that she'll try some of these ideas :)

    1. O.O Wow. Have they ever succeeded, or is it more of a running gag?

      Great to hear this post is a little more useful than it's snarky :)

  3. I, too, suffer from an overactive brain and imagination. :-P I tend to doodle wallpaper patterns on my notes. Don't ask me why. :-P

    1. How interesting -- I tend to doodle flowers instead. In fact, my blog button was derived from one of my flower doodles. (I also nearly failed that math chapter, so. :S)


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