Many students dread taking notes... It is important for students to know how to take notes because often professors create tests over what they have lectured on. It is important to prepare for note taking, take good notes, and study these notes for tests. Taking notes actually benefits the student because it forces a student to listen and to try to understand what is being stated. It also gives the student something to review before tests. Personal notes are usually easier to study and reflect upon than another student's notes. The practice of writing something down stays in the memory longer.
Most professors give good hints to taking notes. They may write on the board. Usually if they write it on the board, they are saying that it may be on a test. Some professors repeat something a couple of times in their lectures. Other professors give hints to guide the student in writing main points down. Often important points can be noted in the tone of the professor's voice. For instance, the instructor may raise his voice and then lower it back to his normal tone. When he raises his voice, he is giving a hint that this is important. When taking notes, watch the nonverbal communication of the professor and then listen to what he is saying. The nonverbal communication often communicates important points.
Different students have different ways of taking notes. No one way is correct. However, an important point is to review the notes as soon as possible after class. Rewrite these notes. Often students scribble main points down and they may forget what these scribbles were later on. Rewriting notes helps the student to put the main points in long-term memory. Rewriting the notes also prevents the student from not being able to read his or her own notes later.
Make notes as brief as possible or create your own shorthand. Most of the time shorthand does not work for taking notes. However, it does help to use abbreviations or symbols. However, remember what these abbreviations or symbols mean when you rewrite the notes. Some students use outlines as a way to take notes. Write down key points in class and review these key points after class.
Some students make the mistake of trying to write down everything the professor says, but this is impossible and it can get confusing. Listen to the main points. Learn to recognize the professor's voice. Be alert in class. Write down key points. Try to take notes that may be seen on future tests.
Keep the notes as short as possible, but not so short that main points are not taken down. If you miss a point, don't get upset about it. After class, simply ask another student if they wrote down the specific point.
Take notes in the same notebook for the class. Writing on a variety of different types of paper or on different notebooks can be confusing later. Keep the notes organized so they will be easy to review later for tests.
Begin a group of students who are in the same class and review notes taken by the different students. Write down points that you might have missed. Share points that other students might have missed. Get together on a regular basis and not just before tests.
Remember, it is important to write down key ideas. Make the notes short. Keep all the notes in the same notebook. Listen to non-verbal communication as well as verbal communication. Review the notes after class. Start a note taking group and review each other's notes.
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