Note Taking Tips
How to Take Great Lecture Notes
Be prepared for class
- Do the readings assigned : If you don’t have time to read them intensely still open the book and skim the pages so you get a general idea of the reading. This makes it easier to pick up the important facts from a professor’s lecture if you already have some general knowledge of the topic.
“Read” the professor
- Pay attention to the subject at hand: At the beginning of the class the professor will probably say what the subject of the lecture will be. Write it down! Then, when you’re listening to the lecture you will know what kind of information to which you should be paying even closer attention.
- Listen for sub-topics: The professor might ask
questions or give sub-topics. Pay attention to these—they’re the skeletons of what he or she is trying to say.
- Write down the information the professor writes on the board: He/she wouldn’t waste time writing it if it wasn’t important.
- Use free time wisely: While the professor explains main points with examples, etc. utilize this “free time” to fill in the notes you didn’t get a chance to finish, if necessary.
- Develop your own shorthand: Don’t write every word out or you’ll never get all the important words down.
- Ask questions if you don’t understand something: If you don’t understand a concept while you’re in class then you will have a much tougher time understanding it when you go back to look at your notes.
Check your work!
- RECOPY YOUR NOTES: It is not enough to just take notes in class. Rewrite and reorganize them right after the lecture or as soon as you can. This way the lecture will be fresh in your head and you can organize your notes effectively. Also, this is a great study habit—it will reinforce the main ideas and cut down on your studying time in the long run.
Where to go for HELP
- See the professor: This should be the first place to go (since this is the individual from whom you got the information) if you are having trouble or need clarification on any questions in your notes.
- Friend/Classmate: If you think you may have missed something, or just want to check the completeness of your notes.
- Record the lecture: If you find you are missing large chunks of lectures or you just can’t keep up with the professor, record the lecture and listen to it later to catch the notes you missed. (Make sure to ask the instructor first – some teachers do not wish to be recorded.)
- The Office of Academic Services (O.A.S.): To review and improve note taking skills see a staff member or tutor.
For additional strategies on note taking click here.