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Try and develop and or use a standard method of note-taking including abbreviations, punctuation, margins, etc.
Buy a large notebook – taking notes in a larger notebook allows you to adequately indent and use an outline form of note-taking.
Be an active listener – try and think before you write but don’t let yourself get behind.
As you take notes leave a few spaces between points so that you can fill in additional points later if necessary. Your objective is to take helpful notes, not to save paper.
Your original notes should be legible enough for your own reading, but use abbreviations of our own invention when possible. The effort required to recopy notes can be better spent in rereading them and thinking about them. Neatness does not tend to increase learning, but it does have to be legible.
It is impossible to take down everything the professor says so try and catch the main points. Spend more time listening and attempt to take notes on the things you feel are most important for example: cues to important points, transition form from one point to the next, repetition of points for emphasis, etc. If you find yourself writing too fast you will have trouble listening to the lecture. However, there will be times when it is more important to write than to listen.
You might find that professors will touch on a few main points and several minor points throughout the lecture. The rest is explanatory material and samples. See if you can catch the main points and not get lost in the wealth of minor points which might not even seem related to each other. The relationship is there if you listen for it. Try and be alert to cues about what the professor thinks is important.
Try and sit as close to the front of class as possible – it is easier to hear, see and attend to important material. It is simple, there are just fewer distractions in the front.
Try to take notes that you feel will answer questions – you will remember more that way.
Last but not least – get assignments and suggestions precisely – ask questions if you are not sure.
Textbook Note Taking
Glance at headings, subheadings, and or any diagrams in the chapter and summary.
Write questions in the margin based on #1 above.
Questions may come from single headings or may combine ideas from several headings. Using the summary will also help you identify the important points in the chapter.
Now begin to read. Highlight important words and phrases that will answer the questions. Do not highlight so much that you lose the important information on the page.
Being able to take good notes is a key to learning and being academically successful. The more you practice the style which works for you the easier note-taking will be and the more time you will have for review and study.