Taking notes is an active way for you to engage in the learning process. It can help you connect your assigned readings with the materials presented in class, and the process can help you recall the information for future use after the class is over. The following section provides tips and suggestions for taking notes more effectively.
Most people develop their own style of note-taking after a little practice but if you haven't had to take comprehensive notes in high school, or you've been out of school for a while, you may want some suggestions to get you started. After all, you don't want to discover that your notes don't work the week before a major test!
If hand-writing your notes seems like too much trouble, click here for some other ideas.
Some general hints to start:
- Listen to what's being said, and then write down a summary in your own words
- Mark all quotes and note who said/wrote them
- Do the recommended reading first - this means you don't waste time taking notes on information that's already there
- If the instructor refers to the text, jot down the page number and a couple of words to help you find the right paragraph
- Listen for phrases like "This is important" or "This will be on the test". ALWAYS write detailed notes after these phrases!
- If it's written on the board, it's probably important and you should note it down
- Use abbreviations
- Space your notes out properly: leave room to add details later
- Cross-reference: if the instructor mentions something similar or related - WRITE IT DOWN! This also applies to any thoughts you have ("This is similar to X...")
- If you find some incorrect information in your notes later, make sure you correct it - you don't want to relearn bad information!
- Try to interpret the information - you don't want to just transcribe the lecture, you want to understand it
The subject is comedic plays. You hear:
"Lysistrata was written during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta and argues not so much for pacifism as for the idea that the states ought not to be fighting one another at this point but combining to rule Greece. This is accomplished within the play when the women of the two states show off their bodies and deprive their husbands of sex until they stop fighting."
- Lys. written during Pelop. War btwn Athens/Sparta
- deals w/contemp issues
- not arguing for pacifism but combined Greece
- women x2 use sex as a weapon
Lysistrata was written during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The Greek women of the 2 states used sex to coerce the men into peace. The author wanted combined rulership of Greece.
The actual TEXT of the bad notes is fine: it covers all the information and shows understanding of the topic. They're bad notes because it takes too long to write like this and it's harder to review the information later.
- Bullet points good
- Sentences are bad
See what we mean? Proper notes are clearer.
And don't forget to use abbreviations (as long as you remember what they mean!).