January 14, 2008

How to Take Damn Good Class Notes

We’re always looking for good tips on taking class notes.

That’s why we’re in love with this tutorial on taking perfect lecture notes. Here are some of our favorite tips:

  • Summarize your notes in your own words, not the instructor’s. Remember: your goal is to understand what the professor is saying, not to try to record, exactly, everything he or she says.
  • Mark ideas which the lecturer emphasizes with an arrow or some special symbol.
  • When the teacher looks at his/her notes, pay attention to what they say next.
  • Make your notes your notes. Take advantage of how you learn (visually, orally, or actively) and write/draw your notes according to that style.
  • Consider splitting your notes into two columns — keep lecture notes on one side, and write questions that come up during the lecture on the other side. This will ensure that you don’t forget any unclear points or questions that come up during the lecture, and will enable you to associate the answer with the relevant material when you find it later. Also, if you go to office hours, your professor will notice that you were paying attention in class, which will pay off in the long run.
  • Copy what’s written on the blackboard and transparencies, especially the outline. To make sure that you get everything, get in the habit of skipping words like “the” and “a” and make use of shorthand and abbreviations.

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