The ability to take adequate notes is important to efficient study and learning in college. Think over the following suggestions and improve your note-taking system where needed.

  1. Take and keep your notes in a notebook large enough to allow room to use an indented outline form and to add comments and links in the future. Leave a few spaces blank as you move from one point to the next so that you can fill in additional points later if necessary. Your objective is to take helpful notes, not to save paper.
  2. Make your original notes legible enough for your own reading. However, while neatness is a virtue, it does not necessarily increase your learning.
  3. Listen actively - if possible, think before you write. Do not try to take down everything that the lecturer says. Firstly, it is impossible and, secondly, it is unnecessary because not everything is of equal importance. Spend more time listening and attempt to take down the main points. If you are writing as fast as you can, you cannot be as discriminating a listener.
  4. Most lecturers attempt to present a few major points and several minor points in a lecture. The rest is explanatory material and samples. Try to see the main points and do not get lost in a barrage of minor points which do not seem related to each other. The relationship should be there if you will listen for it. Listen for cues as to important points, transitions from one point to the next, repetition of points for emphasis, changes in voice inflections, enumeration of a series of points, etc.
  5. Raise questions as appropriate.


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