Note taking

In high school, your teachers often follow the book closely and write on the board everything that needs to go in your notes. In college, you'll need to take notes on reading assignments that are never discussed in class. You'll also need to take notes on what is said in class, not just what is written on the board. Often the content of classroom conversation is not in the book, but it may be on the exam. Within 24 hours you will forget at least half of what is said in the lecture; forgotten material can be relearned if you write it down.

Clear, concise notes are more effective than copious notes.
Preparing to
take lecture notes: 

  1. Read the assigned readings prior to class.
  2. Review your notes from the previous class. Note any questions you have that can be answered by the professor.
  3. Sit near the front of the class to avoid distractions.
  4. Use a separate notebook, section or folder for each course. You may want to color code your class folders/notebooks (i.e. chemistry class is red, biology is green, math is blue, etc.).
  5. Label your notes with the date, professor’s name and the course name.

​Taking lecture notes:

  1. Be a good listener. Focus and concentrate on the main points of the lecture. Get them down on paper. You'll put them into your own words later along with your study notes. Pay attention to the instructor's
    clues as to what he or she considers important.
  2. If there is something that you don't understand, ASK!
  3. Immediately after a lecture, without looking at your notes. try to recall on a separate paper as much as you can about what you have heard and learned. Then review your actual lecture notes to confirm and/or supplement your memory.
  4. During your next study session quickly recall again on paper what you learned. Then review and reorganize your lecture notes in your own words.
  5. Repeat the recall process several times over several days to commit the new information to memory.

After writing
lecture notes:

  1. Read and revise (not recopy) within 24 hours. Fill in complete words, add explanations, underline main points, summarize, refine and elaborate so your notes make sense.
  2. Using a different color ink, write labels, main headings, brief notes, and/or possible exam questions in the margin.
  3. Using your margin notes, recite the contents of your notes and make flash cards or study sheets.
  4. Write a brief summary (2-3 lines) of your notes after each class.
  5. Before the next class, skim your margin notes and summaries.

EXAMPLE: The Cornell Method

Be ready for the future
Note taking area: During class, record your notes in the note- taking column. Write neatly, and be clear. Avoid writing in complete sentences, as this takes too much time. Leave yourself plenty of room at the bottom of the page for a brief summary.

Cue Column:
After class, review your notes and summarize them using one or two keywords. Write these in the cue column. This will help you to memorize and learn the information.
Review: Review your notes for a few minutes each day. Fold your paper so the note taking section is covered. Go through the keywords in the cue column and try to recall the main ideas of the lecture.  
Your listening skills, note taking and ability to manage your sessions will be the prime determinants of your success in college!
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