Effective note taking is one of the keys to succeeding in school. Taking notes forces you to listen carefully and test your understanding of the material. Students should devote a considerable amount of time reviewing information discussed during classroom lectures. It is very difficult to remember specific details from classroom lectures without good notes.
Learning to make notes effectively will help you to improve your study and work habits and to remember important information. Often students are deceived into thinking that because they understand everything that is said in class they will therefore remember it.
Here are some helpful hints on note taking:
Learn to abbreviate.
Have a uniform system of punctuation and abbreviation that will make sense to you. Since teachers usually cover a lot of information during each lecture, it can be hard jotting everything down. This is why it is a good idea to use symbols or abbreviate long words and write short phrases in your notes. Many students use these symbols and abbreviations while taking notes: & (and), w/o (without), eg (for example), ie (that is). When utilizing abbreviations, create a key of your most commonly used abbreviations so you will not forget them.
Organize your notes.
Notes organized by date, class, and subject make it easier to locate specific lecture details. It is also a good idea to keep information from different dates and classes separated or beginning each class with a new piece of paper.
Review your notes.
In order to retain information discussed during lectures, it is best to review notes right after class. This will help you better understand the lecture, your notes, and it will enable you to focus on what you just learned for long-term retention.
Stick to the main points.
Don’t write down everything that you read or hear. Be alert and attentive to the main points. As you make notes, you will develop skills in selecting important material and in discarding unimportant material. Teachers generally give clues as to what is important to take down. Some of the more common clues are: material written on the board, repetition, emphasis (judged by the amount of time the instructor spends on points and the number of examples he or she uses), summaries given at the end of class, and reviews given at the beginning of class.
Effective notes will be of no benefit if they’re unreadable. This is why it is important to use good penmanship when taking notes.
Other helpful hints on good note taking:
Don’t keep notes on oddly shaped pieces of paper. Keep notes in order and in one place.
Take accurate notes. You should usually use your own words, but try not to change the meaning. If you quote directly from an author, quote correctly.
Notes should consist of key words or very short sentences. If a speaker gets sidetracked, it is often possible to go back and add further information.