During the Lecture

  • Listen carefully to the introduction. By knowing this outline, you will be better prepared to anticipate what notes you will need to take. Decipher this outline by listening for: A topic for each section and supporting points or examples for the topic.
  • Copy what’s written on the whiteboard, or overhead projector, especially the outline. To make sure that you get everything, get in the habit of skipping words like “the” and “a” and make use of shorthand and abbreviations. Summarize your notes in your own words, not the instructor’s. Remember: your goal is to understand what the professor is saying, not to try to record exactly everything he or she says.
  • Recognize main ideas by signal words that indicate something important is to follow. See the tip on signals below.
  • Jot down details or examples that support the main ideas. Take down examples and sketches which the lecturer presents. Indicate examples with “e.g.” Give special attention to details not covered in the textbook.
  • Come up with symbols for words used often that you can remember easily.
  • Take detailed notes if possible.
  • Draw diagrams for concepts you can’t remember easily or don’t understand.
  • If there is a summary at the end of the lecture, pay close attention to it. You can use it to check the organization of your notes. If your notes seem disorganized, copy down the main points that are covered in the summary. It will help in revising your notes later.

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