Have you ever sat in class just staring at the professor and started to zone out? Then after ten minutes or so you look down to your notebook and notice there is nothing written. Well that has happened to me more often than I will admit. Taking notes is one of the hardest things to do in college, because you never know what is really important or what is going to be on the test. When I was a first year student I remember writing down everything the professor said but then when studying time came around I was overwhelmed because I had thirty pages of notes and only seven pages of those thirty were relevant to the exam. So I found some tips that can alleviate this problem for many of you that are in the same position when I was a first year student. These have helped me through my four years here and hopefully they will help you too!!
- Don’t write down everything that you read or hear. Be alert and attentive to the main points. Concentrate on the “meat” of the subjects and forget the “trimmings.”
- Notes should consist of key words, or very short sentences. As a speaker gets side-tracked you can go back and add further information.
- Take accurate notes. You should usually use your own words, but try not to change the meaning. If you quote directly from the author, quote correctly and record the citation.
- Think a minute about your material before you start making notes. Don’t take notes just to be taking notes! Take notes that will be of real value to you when you look over them later.
- Have a uniform system of punctuation and abbreviation that will make sense to you. Use a skeleton outline and show importance by indenting. Leave white space for later additions.
- Omit descriptions and full explanations. Keep your notes short and to the point. Condense your material so you can grasp it rapidly.
- Do not worry about missing a point. Leave space and try to pick up the material you miss at a later date, either through reading, questioning, or common sense.
- Don’t keep notes on oddly shaped pieces of paper. Keep notes in order and in one place.
- Shortly after making your notes, go back and rework (not recopy!) your notes by adding extra points, spelling out unclear items, etc. Remember, we forget quickly. Budget time for this vital step just as you do for the class itself.
- Review your notes periodically. This is the only way to achieve lasting memory.
Taken from Chapman University