One very important skill all college students should learn is good note taking. Surprisingly, a large number of students never do learn effective note taking skills.
While this sets them at a disadvantage, it also provides an excellent opportunity for you to excel.
The ability to write organized and targeted notes will serve you well through college and even after you graduate!
#1 Go To Class Prepared
The first step to creating a good finished product effective notes – is to prepare well before the class starts.
If your professor assigns any preparatory books, read them!
If you do not study this material, you may struggle to understand his lecture because of the lack of introductory material that was contained in the reading. In addition, you will have trouble asking questions, because you will never know if a question was already answered in the assigned reading.
The second way that you must prepare before class is by properly arming yourself. Unless you are allowed to use a computer, you will need to use paper and a pen or pencil.
When choosing your paper, try to find a loose-leaf notebook rather than one with a permanent binding. Your notes will be much more useful if you are able to spread them out on a table while studying.
When choosing a writing implement, you should always choose a pen. While a pencil can be a good backup, a pen is much faster and quieter.
Be careful, however, to monitor the level of your pen ink. Only today, I was surprised by a pen running out of ink unexpectedly.
Thankfully, I had another backup pen, but, if I had not, my note taking would have been stopped.
Prepare for the unexpected by carrying emergency pens and pencils.
#2 Pay Attention
Once you arrive at class, it is time to get busy.
Obviously, you need to pay attention to take good notes. Surprisingly, however, this first requirement of good note taking is often hard to fulfill.
Excitement about an upcoming event, thoughts about another subject, or just plain lack of interest can all distract your attention and ambush your note taking attempts.
To combat this problem, try to force yourself to be interested. Instead of letting yourself think, I wish I wasnt here, compel yourself to remember why you are taking the class.
Even if this method does not make you ever like the class, it will help you to concentrate better, which will improve your notes, which will help you learn better, which will improve your test scores.
#3 Take Good Notes
Once you are paying attention to your professor, you next need to start working at actually taking the notes.
Simply writing random notes in random positions on random pages will not be of much (if any) benefit to you. Instead, you need to develop an order for your notes.
For instance, rather than writing notes from different lectures on the same page, you should start a new, neatly-labeled page for each address.
At the top of each page, record the class, speaker, and date. Although this may seem unnecessary at the time, you will be very glad for it when you review your notes weeks, or months, latter while studying for a test.
Even if you are planning to be a doctor, you still need to have the ability to write legible notes.
Undecipherable notes will not help you study. In fact, even if your notes are not completely illegible, a sloppily written set of notes will encourage a subconscious sloppy mind set when studying that will damage your study skills.
Save time and frustration by learning good handwriting.
Be Concise… But Not Hard-To-Understand
Write enough information that you will be able to understand what you meant later, but not so much that you get distracted from the speaker.
Jot down key points, lists, dates, formulas, and other important pieces of information.
#4 Ask Questions
If you have trouble understanding a difficult topic, dont be afraid to ask a question during class. Chances are that other listeners are also wondering the same thing but have simply not built the courage to ask.
If you simply have a hole in your notes from not paying attention, dont waste the time of your professor and fellow students by asking your questions in class. Instead, wait until after – when you can ask another student privately.
#5 Review Your Notes
After you finish recording your notes, it is time for the last step to successful note taking review.
Complete your first review quickly (within 24 hours). If you wait longer you are likely to forget some important information.
Fill in any needed details and file your notes carefully for future study.
What are your best tips for note taking?