Note-Taking For Lectures
Date and title all notes.
Keep class notes together in one place. Whether you opt to use a spiral-bound or a loose-leaf notebook for each class, keeping materials together helps to keep the information organized.
Use standard abbreviations and graphic signals when possible. When there aren’t abbreviations that are considered generally acceptable, create your own. (Hint: Follow the instructor’s lead on this.)
Tape record lectures when allowed. (Be sure to obtain permission from the instructor before taping class sessions.) This makes filling in information missed during the session much easier. Please note: Don’t ever rely solely on recorders. Using a tape recorder is not an excuse to not take good notes in class. Recorders should be used as a supplement to fill in and further reinforce learning already done in class.
Be liberal in your use of paper. Allow yourself plenty of space to write and fill in information later. This aids in keeping pages neat and easy to read. (Also, some people find writing only on one side of each page helpful in the fluidity of notetaking.)
If using a laptop to take notes in class, save (and save often) to your “C” drive (or the equivalent of your local drive).
If instructors regularly refer to the book or test mostly from the text, take the text to class. Have your book open, write in the text as the instructor lectures noting and highlighting important concepts.
If the instructor uses Powerpoint and the presentations are posted on the course web site, print off the presentations, take it with you to class and write notes directly on the print out.
Write notes in outline form, when possible. If you are unable to outline while in class do so immediately following the class.
Review notes immediately following class and fill in missing information while it’s fresh in your mind. If you are unable to remember important lecture material, see the professor to ask about missing concepts.
Write your own summary of material covered in each class. Ideally you should be able to “teach it back” in your own words.
When reading for the class, take notes on the material, outlining any questions you may have. Once in class, if questions are not answered in lecture, ask instructor for clarification or answers to your questions from the reading.
Use pictures or diagrams to help make information visual. This is particularly helpful for visual learners and generally aids in memory and recall.
Copy material written on the board. If the instructor is taking the time to write it down, it’s because (s)he feels that it’s important information.
When speaking and writing about course material, use key terminology presented in the course. This will help reinforce key points and make it easier to grasp essential vocabulary.
If making editorial comments on lecture material, be sure to label the comments with your initials so that you won’t mistake the comments for the instructor’s.
Write down questions immediately when you think of them. Inevitably there will be times in class when you have a question, but it may not be a good time to interrupt the lecturer. By writing questions down, you will be less apt to forget to ask and less apt to forget the question itself.
Create flashcards from lecture notes to help memorize key people, dates, concepts, etc.
Review your notes before the next class to help remember where the class left off.