During Class: Taking Notes

The ability to take good notes is one of the most important skills a student can possess. Unfortunately, note taking is not something that most teachers and instructors cover in their courses. In the earlier grades, you were probably given handouts or asked to copy information from a whiteboard or overhead projector. Then, suddenly, you’re attending lectures. Your professors expect you to be able to summarize these lectures quickly and distinguish between what’s important and what’s not. However, summarizing the most important information can be a daunting challenge if you’ve never been taught how to do it.

Many students try to write down every word the professor says during a lecture. Unless you are a very fast writer, you will almost certainly find this impossible. The key is to get down the most important points and then go back to your notes after class to organize them and add more detail. Perfecting your notes is also a good way to review the material that was covered during the day’s lectures.

Aside from encouraging you to look at note taking in a different way, this section also contains tips that can help you get essential lecture information onto paper by using shorthand and can help you recognize clues that indicate a topic is important. You’ll also find straightforward advice about where to sit in class, how to prepare for a lecture, and how to store your notes. A good set of class notes is a detailed outline of all of the topics that you might encounter on a test or exam and excellent notes, when reviewed regularly, can help you boost your test scores and your grades dramatically.

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