10 Ways to Improve your Note-Taking in Class
Adequate notes are a necessary adjunct to efficient studying and learning in college. Think over the following suggestions and improve your note taking system where needed:
- Listen actively. If possible, think before you write – but don’t get behind.
- Be open-minded about points you disagree on. You can think more about your arguments when you review/meet with the instructor.
- Raise questions if appropriate.
- Do not try to take down everything that the lecturer says. It is impossible and unnecessary because everything is not of equal importance. Spend more time listening and attempt to take down the main points. If you are writing as fast as you can, you cannot be as discriminating a listener.
- Listen for cues to important points, transitions from one point to the next, repetition of points for emphasis, changes in voice inflections, enumeration of a series of points, etc.
- Try to see the main points and do not get lost in a barrage of minor points that do not seem related to each other. The relationship will present itself if you listen closely for it. Be alert to cues about what the professor thinks is important.
- Make your original notes legible enough for your own reading and use abbreviations of your own invention when possible. Although neatness is a virtue in some respect, it does not necessarily increase your learning.
- Copy down or photograph everything on the board. Every blackboard scribble might be a clue to an exam item? You may not be able to integrate what is on the board into your lecture notes, but if you copy it, it may serve as a useful clue for you later. If not, what the heck – you haven’t wasted anything. You were in the classroom anyway.
- Sit as close to the front of the class as possible – there are fewer distractions and it is easier to hear, see, and attend to important material.
- REVIEW YOUR NOTES WITHIN 24 HOURS OF CLASS. This will help you better understand the material, see if you have any questions, and prepare for tests/quizzes/assignments.