Taking Notes in Class
Taking notes effectively is essential to obtaining the information the teacher or trainer is attempting to impart. Learning how to take good notes in class is also an essential part of study preparation. Taking effective notes will help you better prepare for exams and help you to understand the topics better. It is crucial that you learn to keep logical and legible notes. If not, they will be of little use.
Note taking is a learned skill, and learning the steps of good note taking is rather easy. However, incorporating them into your learning routine is more difficult.
There are three steps to good note taking.
- Taking Notes
Preparation is essential to almost every activity and good note taking is no exception. You should prepare to take note before class even begins.
The first step is to get a notebook to keep all your notes from a class. Some people prefer a loose-leaf notebook, while others prefer a spiral notebook. The benefit of a loose leaf is that you can move pages around in a different order or add pages between existing pages.
- Use dividers to separate the different classes you take.
- Make it a habit of using your notebook to record ALL your notes.
Before coming to class you should review your notes from the previous class. Teachers typically will build on topics from the previous class, therefore, it is important that you review these notes so that the concept is fresh in your mind and you will be able to understand the new concepts being taught. Also, make sure to bring plenty of pens, pencils and paper for taking notes.
There are different ways of taking notes. Two common ways are listed below, but effective note taking is a mater of personal preference.
Cornell Note taking system
Suggestions for Taking Notes
No matter which technique you chose, effective Note taking during class requires the following:
- In order to take good notes, you must be an active listener
- Focus and concentrate on the main points of the lecture
- Stay focused and pay attention to what your teacher is saying
- Usually teachers speak more slowly and possibly louder when something is important.
- A teacher will often repeat something that is important for you to know.
- Listen for key phrases such as “The most important thing…”, “Don’t forget that…”, or “Remember the…”
- Do not try to write down everything your teacher says
- Get the main points and key information down, and then reorganize them in your own words
- Always write down key words
- Include definitions in notes
- Use symbols in place of words or abbreviate certain words in order to save time
- If you get behind or don’t understand a concept make a mark on your paper to remind you to come back and review the subject in more detail.
Rewrite / Review
The final part of effective note taking is rewriting your notes. Rewriting your notes will give you the opportunity review concepts that were difficult to understand while they are still fresh in your mind. Rewriting also gives you the opportunity to change abbreviated words and sentences into complete words / sentences for better understanding when you review them at a later time. You will also be able to reorganize the information in a format and sequence that best helps you understand and retain the information.
Shortly after class, usually within 24 hours, rewrite your notes from class while the information is still fresh in your memory. The longer you wait the harder it will be to rewrite the notes as you will have forgotten connections between topics and concepts. As you rewrite them, relate the notes to what you have learned in the class.
During the course of the semester, periodically review your notes. Consider highlighting or making additional notes on or adjacent to the existing notes.