Tips for Note Taking

  • Collect notes for each course in one place, in a separate notebook or section of a notebook.
  • Use an ‘erasable pen or pencil ‘.
  • Use a loose-leaf notebook rather than a notebook with a permanent binding.
  • Enter your notes legibly because it saves time. Make them clear.
  • Draw a box around assignments and suggested books so you can identify them quickly.
  • Mark ideas which the lecture emphasizes with a highlighter, arrow or some special symbol.
  • When the teacher looks at his/her notes, pay attention to what they say next. Check any notes you may have missed with a classmate.
  • Do an outline. For every new section of your subject, use a new bullet – then title it and use smaller bullets,(-),or number them to put information down. This is much better than just writing down everything as a new point.
  • If the teacher has given a clear outline of the topic e.g. “Today we’ll learn about 10 types of leaves..”, use numbers 1,2,…10 for the main points (types of leaves), and letters of the alphabet a, b, c etc for examples of each type.
  • Use ‘mind maps’ if you’ve learned how to draw them. Ask someone to show you the method, or Google the information. Mind maps are an excellent way to organize ideas on paper, and you can easily add examples / stories / supporting info / evidence in the right places even if your teacher mentions them much later.
  • One helpful strategy is, if your teacher writes on his or her black or whiteboard, use a bullet for anything he writes, and a dash for anything he says, and use a plus for any combination. This can help distinguish exact facts with inferences.
  • Incorporate different colors of ink, diagrams, drawings of your own. Make your notes your notes. Take advantage of how you learn (visually, aurally [by ear], or actively) and write/draw your notes according to that style.
  • Watch for signal words. Your instructor is not going to send up a rocket when he/she states an important new idea or gives an example, but she will use signals to telegraph what she is doing. Every good speaker does it, and you should expect to receive these signals

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