Effective note-taking can engage your mind, organize and emphasize important information, provide an avenue for understanding concepts and their relationships, and help you keep a consolidated and condensed record for studying. Here’s some tips to help you become the best note-taker you can be.

How do I take good lecture notes?

  1. Review any assignments or readings before class.  It will make it easier to understand which information is important and which is not.
  2. Don’t write down everything that you see or hear.  Focus on the important information.
  3. Use keywords or very short sentences.
  4. Be accurate.  Use your own words, but be careful not to change the speaker’s meaning.
  5. Think before you take notes. Consider how and why you will use this information to study later.
  6. Have a consistent system of symbols and abbreviations.  Leave lots of white space on the page for future thoughts and new understanding.
  7. Don’t worry about missing a point here or there.  No one can write down everything.
  8. Leave time after class to fill in any clarification or elaboration.  You will forget quickly, so do this right away.
  9. Rewriting notes at a later date, using new pen colors and highlighters, can help cement information in your mind, as well as make studying a more aesthetically- enjoyable experience.

How do I know what to write down?

Instructors usually give clues as to what is important to write down.  Some clues are:

  1. Material written on the board
  2. Repetition
  3. Emphasis (tone of voice or length of time)
  4. Reviews given at the start of class
  5. Summaries given at the end of class
  6. Word signals (therefore, there are two sides to the debate, etc.)

What symbols could I use to simplify my notes?

> is more than w/ with to change to
< is less than w/o without leading to, causing
= is equal to b/c because as a result of
is approximate to   / per, out of  ↑ to increase, go up
is not equal to + and  ↓ to decrease, go down
i.e. example ex. example @ at

How do I write good annotations when I read?

  1. Think of these notes as a personal response to the author’s ideas.
  2. Develop a system of highlighting and annotations — and stick to it!
  3. Be selective.  Look for ideas or concepts that will help you accomplish the assignment.

How do I know what is important?

  1. Important points to which you react (emotionally or intellectually)
  2. Places where you need further information
  3. Places where the author reveals his or her reasons for writing
  4. Ideas you disagree or agree with
  5. Inconsistencies or fallacies

Kaylan | 2018 

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