Learning how to take good notes in class is an important part of study preparation. The information provided and topics covered by your teacher are what you will be studying. If you don’t take good notes in class you won’t know what to study once class is over.
The following tips can help you take effective notes:
Make clear and accurate notes
Clearly written, accurate notes help to capture information for later study and review. Often when taking notes in class you'll understand what the teacher is saying so you decide not to take clear and accurate notes only to find out later that you can't remember what the teacher was saying and that your notes aren't clear or accurate enough for you remember the details of the lecture. Taking accurate and clear notes will (1) ensure that you understand the subject matter being discussed, (2) help to concrete what is being taught in your mind and (3) will provide you the means to go back after class and review the subject matter being taught.
Come to class prepared
There is nothing that will help you take better notes than coming to class prepared. Before coming to class make sure that (1) you have read all assigned readings and (2) that you have reviewed your notes from the previous class. Coming to class prepared will help you take much better notes. You'll be able to take more detail notes on items you don't fully understand. You'll be able to ask questions that will lead to more accurate and useful notetaking. And you'll be better prepared to learn new information not covered in previous class lectures.
Compare your notes
When class is over compare your notes to those taken by other students. Sometimes other students will pick up on things discussed by the teacher that you missed or didn't find important. Comparing notes will help ensure that your notes are complete and accurate.
If you're serious about your education then you'll want to remove any distractions that keep you from concentrating on class lectures and taking copious notes. Site close to the front of the room, don't sit next to individuals your tempted to talk to during class and try to stay away from any other situation that would distract you during class.
Organize your notes
We recommend starting each class with a clean sheet of paper. We also recommend that you put the day's date at the top of your notes along with any other relevant information (i.e. history notes, chemistry notes, etc.) This will help you to keep track of each days notes and increase your ability to go back and review your notes for exams and quizzes.
Use abbreviations and symbols
In some classes it can be difficult to write down everything that the teacher or professor is saying. We recommend using short sentences and phrases and easily remembered abbreviations and symbols in order to make sure you're able to keep up with the lecture. The following are few common abbreviations and symbols that student can use to speed up their note taking: cf (compare), ie (that is), eg (for example), w/ (with), w/o (without), &, + (and), = (equals, is). There are number of other abbreviations that you can come up with to increase your note taking speed must make sure you remember what each abbreviation is or that you have a key that tells you what each abbreviation means.
It doesn't matter how many notes you can take if you can't make sense of your notes after the lecture is over. Make sure to write clearly -- especially if you're using abbreviations. Its also useful to leave plenty of blank space in the left marging or in between ideas or new concepts so that you can come back later and add more information.
Review your notes
Review your notes as soon as you can. Reviewing your notes directly following a lecture will make sure that (1) you understand your notes, (2) you understood the lecture and (3) it will help you to concrete in your mind the concepts and information you learned.
Write down questions
Quite frequently you're going to find -- especially as you enter college -- that is can be difficult if not impossible at times to understand everything the teacher is talking about. Make sure to write down any questions you have or concepts you didn't completely understand so that you can go back after class and ask the teacher specific questions or use reference resources to better understand difficult concepts.
Effective note taking is one of the keys to effective studying. Most successful students, whether they be in highschool or college, are excellent note takers.
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