How to Take Notes

Although you can learn just from sitting in class and listening to the information being presented, taking notes will enable you to review the information later on.

Listen, Listen and Listen
Many students become so absorbed in taking notes while they are in class or lecture that they fail to listen. Failing to listen means that you're so busy taking notes of every word that is being said that you fail to absorb and learn the information. Distinguishing when you need to take down notes and when you don't is an important part of note taking.

Prepare to Take Notes Before the Class Starts
Preparing yourself before the class begins can enable you to reduce the time which is spent rushing through notes once the class has begun. Reviewing class outlines, handouts, books, and/or website information can help you to become familiar with the material that is going to be covered in class.

Avoid Distractions While Taking Notes
There are many forms of distractions that can affect you while you are taking notes. Electronic gadgets as well as the actions of those around you can often affect your ability to take notes and absorb information during class.

One of the best ways to avoid distractions while taking notes is to sit at the front of the class. Sitting at the front of the class gives you the best line of sight to learn the information that is being given and reduces the mix-ups that can come when you are in the back of the classroom. You'll also be in a great location to ask questions that you may have about the material. If there is no time during class, take note of your questions and save them to ask after class.

Create an Outline for the Notes and Use Headings as Reminders
It is important that you learn to recognize keywords. Keywords are often found on the introduction of the outline of the class lecture or course. Use these keywords as the heading for each section of your notes to ensure that your notes remain organized. This can make it easy to create study aids as well as being easy to locate specific information that you are looking for when it comes time to take a test or to review a term or concept that you were unfamiliar with.

Don't Rush
Rushing means that you are entering information quickly and therefore it can sometimes lead to difficult to understand notes. Rather than rushing through the notes, learn to focus on the key points and pieces of information that are being presented to you and use this information to create a basis for your notes.

If the instructor is moving to a new topic, but you're still taking notes on the previous topic, don't be afraid to leave the section blank and use the information in the textbook or other sources to complete the notes once the lecture has been finished.

Organize Your Notes
Being organized while taking the notes can save hours trying to scour through pages of information to determine which of the pieces of information are going to be on a test or an examination. Leave room within the notes to indicate which sections of the notes are going to be on the exam. One of the most common and effective ways to organize the notes that are being taken is to use headings, then sub-headings.

Compare Notes with a Classmate
When taking notes, it can be helpful to compare the notes that are being taken with a friend. Comparing notes with a classmate can reduce the missing items. Choose a partner that is taking the class or sessions seriously in order to gain the best results from the process.

Don't be Afraid to Use an Audio Recorder
Using an audio recorder can be an effective way to maintain notes and ensure that you haven't missed any important points within the lecture, especially if you are an auditory learner. The audio recorder enables you to play back the lecture and the information that has been presented and allows you to easily take notes and focus on the auditory cues which are provided by the instructor.

Don't Waste Time with Information that You Already Know
Rather than going in depth, writing down information that you are already familiar with, you can make short notes to convey that you are familiar with the topic. There is no need to spend valuable time within the lecture rehashing the information through notes.

Summarize the key points in a few words instead of long sentences/paragraphs. Shortened notes enable you to get as much information as possible while taking down the notes. This will save you time writing words that aren't required in order to get the concept of the point across.

How to Make Note Taking Easier
Make use of abbreviations. There are many standard abbreviations that can be used while taking notes. Making use of these abbreviations can be an effective way to be able to save time to pay attention while you are taking down notes.

Use arrows and other elements while taking notes, like under lining and highlighting or headings to organize the notes and ensure that you are able to create a focus for important points that are being displayed. This can help you to review important information come testing time and help you to determine which information is required. Creating your own system can be an effective way to ensure that you are able to sufficiently organize the notes.

Also see: Note Taking Strategies

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