The Value of Taking Notes The notes you take in class are actually a handwritten text. In many cases, your lecture notes should be more practical, more meaningful, and more up-to-date than a textbook. If you keep them complete and organized, they will serve you well. Taking notes forces you to listen in class. Effective listening means that your purpose in attending class is to learn. Resist distractions by sitting at the front, if possible. Notes provide a gauge to what the professor thinks is important. Emphasis placed on topics will assist you in identifying what will be on exams and what to look for in the readings or textbook. Information provided in class may not be available anywhere else. Although attendance in most classes is optional, they may be the only chance you get to learn the material. Attend ALL lectures! Writing down important points assists with retention. It is easier to remember and learn from your own notes, even if you haven’t studied the material formally. Effective notes are very important. Note-taking Tip 1: Prepare for Each & Every Lecture Before each class, read the readings and/or textbook pages assigned to that class. If you do not have time to read, at least skim and scan the material so that you will have some familiarity with it. Your goal is to be able to recognize key ideas and important concepts as they come up in the lecture. Note-taking Tip 2: Begin Each Lecture on a New Page Indicate the title of the lecture, the date, and the page number. If you are a “messy” writer, double-space your notes. Consider writing on only one side of the page, as it is easier to insert information such as handouts, study guides, and additional readings. Note-taking Tip 3: Pay Attention to the Professor Spend some time watching how the professor emphasizes major points through his/her voice, movements, and pauses. These cues will help you discriminate between main ideas and supporting details. Ignore delivery errors and focus on the content. If your professor is difficult to understand, request an outline prior to class for reference. Note-taking Tip 4: Listen for Opening Statements Outlining Topics Use this information to help you decide the form your notes will take. Consider using an outline, chart/table, flowchart, columns, web/map, etc. to help you organize the lecture information. Note-taking Tip 5: Use Symbols or Abbreviations Use symbols for relationships (increase – ?), eliminate final letters (association – assoc), omit vowels and retain a minimum number of consonants (estimate – estmt), and use “g” to represent “ing” endings (checking – chkg). Note-taking Tip 6: When in Doubt, Write It Down If you hear information or see material that you do not understand during the lecture, record it as thoroughly as possible. Write formulae, definitions, and specific facts exactly as they were presented. After the lecture, gain understanding by checking the textbook, asking classmates, or contacting the professor. Note-taking Tip 7: Listen for 3 Kinds of Information There are three categories of information presented during a lecture: main ideas, explanations or supporting ideas, and details such as facts, examples, formulae, etc. Try to decide what kind of information is being presented. Note-taking Tip 8: Review after the Lecture To retain the most amount of information from the lecture, review your notes within 24 to 36 hours. Do “something” with them such as highlighting, adding textbook information, summarizing, etc.