Extremely Efficient Note Taking

I’m back to college in less than 2 weeks & it’s the beginning of the Spring semester. This semester also happens to hold a high place in my list of major goals for this year. That goal happens to be attaining a GPA of 3.6. I really want to do this. Not only for me, but also for my family.

So this is my first post on what’s going to be quite a few college related posts. Here goes.

Taking notes is a 3 stage process in which there are certain things you should do before, during and after class.

Before Class:

♥ Make sure you have all the material you’ll need for class such as pens, pencils, notebook, lecture notes etc

♥ If possible go through the lecture to get an idea of what’s ahead

♥ Please make sure you’ve had enough sleep so you’re alert and focused! And yes, I do know that’s not possible all the time

♥ If you record your lectures make sure your audio recorder is ready

♥ Make sure you’ve had something to eat and drink before you go to class. Trust me, from experience I know that trying to concentrate on an empty stomach is not easy as pie

♥ If you have any assignments due make sure they are done!

During Class:

♥ First and foremost: listen!

♥ Write down the date and the topic of the lecture. Remember to number your pages as well

♥ Sit in the front and the middle of the classroom where there are fewer distractions (I usually skip this part if I may say!)

♥ Train yourself to focus—and to write—for longer intervals

♥ Write more, not less. Rule of thumb: 15 minutes = 1 page of notes

♥ This may not work for some of you but I take notes for each lecture in a rough notebook then when I get home (the same day!) I re-write them neatly in the corresponding notebook

♥ Look for clues-  your professor may repeat something several times, change the volume or tone of their voice, or write something on the board. These are all important points. Write them down!

♥ Put a question mark in pencil next to anything you’re not sure about. The reason I say pencil is that when you’ve got it cleared you can erase it and you’re good to go

♥ Write notes on one side of the page only

♥ Indicate main points and supporting points as you go along. You could use numbers for main points and sub-numbers for supporting points

♥ Jot down key vocabulary, important facts, formulas and definitions. Try to get down the professor’s definition of a term, word for word

♥ Remember PowerPoint’s are not enough for you. They are only a professor’s way of remembering what to say. You need all the explanations and details

♥ Ask questions. If you’re confused, it’s better to ask while the material is fresh in your mind. If at the end of the class you have some doubts, just go ahead & ask

♥ Add titles and subtitles for easy referencing

♥ Make use of a highlighter

♥ Don’t use other people’s notes or ask a friend to sit in for you to take notes. Taking notes for yourself is the single best way to engage in—and remember—the lecture

After Class:

♥ Get into the habit of filing away all exams, quizzes, and notes in chronological order

♥ Go through the notes you have taken in class and start to re-write them neatly. Make them precise and neat

♥ Before your next class make sure you have gone through the previous class and know what you’ve taken

♥ Make good use of office hours. I wish I had before!

What do you do when taking notes for college? Participate and let me know!

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Published in: on January 13, 2009 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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