Information about effective note-taking
- Listen actively - if possible think before you write - but don't
- Be open minded about points you disagree on. Don't let arguing
interfere with your note-taking.
- Raise questions if appropriate.
- Develop and use a standard method of note-taking including
punctuation, abbreviations, margins, etc.
- Take and keep notes in a large notebook. The only merit to a small
notebook is ease of carrying and that is not your main objective. A large
notebook allows you to adequately indent and use an outline form.
- Leave a few spaces blank as you move from one point to the next so
that you can fill in additional points later if necessary. Your objective
is to take helpful notes, not to save paper.
- Do not try to take down everything that the lecturer says. It is
impossible in the first place and unnecessary in the second place because
not everything is of equal importance. Spend more time listening and
attempt to take down the main points. If you are writing as fast as you
can, you cannot be as discriminating a listener. There may be some times,
however, when it is more important to write than to think.
- Listen for cues as to important points, transition form one point
to the next, repetition of points for emphasis, changes in voice
inflections, enumeration of a series of points, etc.
- Many lecturers attempt to present a few major points and several
minor points in a lecture. The rest is explanatory material and samples.
Try to see the main points and do not get lost in a barrage of minor
points which do not seem related to each other. The relationship is there
if you will listen for it. Be alert to cues about what the professor
thinks is important.
- Make your original notes legible enough for your own reading, but
use abbreviations of your own invention when possible. The effort required
to recopy notes can be better spent in rereading them and thinking about
them. Although neatness is a virtue in some respect, it does not
necessarily increase your learning.
- Copy down everything on the board, regardless. Did you ever stop to
think that every blackboard scribble may be a clue to an exam item? You
may not be able to integrate what is on the board into your lecture notes,
but if you copy it, it may serve as a useful clue for you later. If not,
what the heck -- you haven't wasted anything. You were in the classroom
- Sit as close to the front of the class, there are fewer
distractions and it is easier to hear, see and attend to important
- Get assignments and suggestions precisely - ask questions if you're