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Adapted From: Becoming a Master Student
By: David B. Stage


1. Complete outside assignments.
The more familiar you are with a subject, the better you can observe what happens in class. You have started a "file" in your memory into which you can fit new details. If the structure already exists in your mind, you can focus all your energy on observing the in-class information.

2. Bring the right materials.
Make sure you have a pen, pencil, notebook, etc. even if you may sometimes not need them. Being unprepared can create enough distraction to take the find edge off your concentration.

3. Sit in the front and center.
Not only can you see the overheads and films better, but students who get as close as possible to the front and center of the room do better on tests.

4. Conduct a short pre-class review.
Arrive early, then review your notes from the previous class meeting. Note questions you intend to ask.

5. Clarify your intentions.
Decide exactly what you intend to get out of each particular class.

BE HERE!!!---NOW!!!---IN CLASS!!!

1. Accept your wandering mind.
Let each daydreaming episode become an opportunity to return to the task.

2. Be in tune with the instructor.
Look him\her in the eye and imagine the lecture is a personal talk with you.

3. Be aware of your environment.

4. Postpone any argument or debate.
When you hear something with which you disagree, note your feelings and let it go, for the time being. Don't allow your internal dialogue to drown out the subsequent material.

5. Let go of judgments about lecture styles.

Don't let your attitude about an instructors habits or appearance get in the way of your education.

6. Participate in class activities.
Ask questions. Volunteer for demonstrations. Join in discussions.

7. Relate what is going on in your class to your goals.
If you are having trouble staying awake in a particular class, at the top of your notes write how that class relates to a specific goal of yours. Keep in mind the reward or pay-off for reaching that goal.


1. Be alert to repetition.
Repetition is a signal that the instructor thinks the information is important.

2. Listen for introductory, concluding and transition words and phrases

3. Watch the board.
Copy all diagrams, drawings, equations, names, places, dates, statistics, and definitions.

4. Watch the instructor's eyes.
If an instructor glances at her\his notes and then makes a point, it is probably a signal that the information is especially important.

5. Don't ignore obvious clues.
instructors will often tell students pointblank that certain information is likely to appear on an exam. Make some notation of these in your notes.

6. Notice the instructor's interest level.
if the instructor is excited about something, that something is likely to appear on an exam.


1. Use the Cornell format of note-taking.
On each page of your notes, draw a vertical line, top to bottom, 1 1/2" from the left edge of the paper (if it hasn't been printed on for you). Write your notes to the right of the line. Use the area to the left for key word clues and samples.

2. Create mind maps.
Mind mapping involves starting in the middle of the page. Write the main subject on a line in the center of the page. Record points subordinate to the main topic on lines branching out from the central subject. In turn, each subordinate point can have its own branches. Mind maps can be used in conjunction with Comell format notes.

3. Write notes in outline form.
You can use a standard Roman Numeral outline or a more free-form indented outline to organize the information in a lecture.

4. Write notes in paragraphs.
When it is difficult to follow the organization of a lecture or to put information into outline form, create a series of informal paragraphs. During your review process you can organize your notes.

5. Use Key Words.
An easy way to sort out all the extraneous material from the important points is to take notes using key words. Key words trigger your memory. One special word or phrase can initiate the recall of a whole cluster of ideas.

6. Use pictures and diagrams.
Copy from the board and create your own illustrations to explain or flesh-out the information contained in lecture.

7. Copy material that is presented on the board, overhead, or any other medium that assists you in note taking.

8. Use a 3-ring binder.

Binders allow you to insert handouts right into your notes. You can insert your own out-of-class notes in the correct order. You can easily make additions, corrections, and revisions.

9. If you have trouble reading your notes, use only one side of the paper.

10. Use 3x5 index cards for each new concept, as an alternative to notebook paper.

11. Keep your own thoughts separate. Avoid malting editorial comments in your lecture notes.

12. Use a "lost" signal. If you get lost and it is inappropriate to ask a question, record on your notes where you got lost. Later, you can check on the missed material.

13. Label, number, and date all notes.

14. Use standard abbreviations. Some instructors will have their own.

15. Use white space, especially if you have trouble reading your notes. Give your eyes a break by leaving plenty of space. Later, when you review, you can use the space in your notes to clarify points or add other material.

16. Avoid tape recorders.

17. Use graphic symbols.
These include: Brackets, parentheses, circles, squares, etc. These can be used to group information that belongs together. Use stars, arrows, and underlines for very important material.

18. Use complete sentences when material is important.


1. Review within 24 hours.
The sooner you review the notes, the better. Your review will put the information in long-term memory.

2. Edit your notes.
Fix words that are illegible while you still remember what you wrote. Make sure you can read your notes.

3. Fill in Key Words in left-hand column.

4. Organize your notes with graphic symbols. (illustrate important points)

5. Conduct short weekly review periods.

6. Use your Key Words as clues to recite.

7. Create "mind map" summaries.

8. Conduct pre-class reviews.


Use this list as a means to get you into the routine of good note-taking habits.

a. check the syllabus for the topic of lecture and corresponding readings.
b. read and/or outline the chapter before going to lecture.
C. Review previous text and lecture notes.
d. choose a seat close to the front in class.

a. copy what is on the board.
b. correctly record dates, names, etc.
c. be alert for behavioral and verbal cues from the professor.
d. avoid being late or packing up early; the lecturer may give an introduction and/or summary.
e. keep notes readable.
f.. keep note organized.
g. keep notes brief, don't copy the lecture word for word.

a. check the lecture against the outline of the corresponding text chapter; if some material was not covered find out why.
b. coordinate text and lecture notes; identify similar topics and eliminate duplicate material.
c. circle assignments and references given during the lecture.
d. review notes as soon as possible.
e. ask questions.
f. clarify notes by re-writing summaries.

How to Take Notes
Before the Final Review Final Review What to do the day of the Exam How to Take an Objective Tests How to Prepare for and Write Essay Tests

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