Ask yourself:

  • Do I use complete sentences?
  • Do I use any form at all?
  • Are my notes clear or confusing?
  • Do I capture the main points and all sub-points?
  • Do I streamline using symbols, abbreviations, and shortcuts?

6 Important Reasons to Take Notes

  • It helps you to concentrate in class.
  • It helps you prepare for tests.
  • It is easier to work from notes that you have written rather than photocopied sheets.
  • Information is more easily remembered if you write it down.
  • Your notes are often a source of valuable clues for what information the instructor thinks most important.
  • Your notes often contain information that cannot be found elsewhere (i.e., in your textbook).

Scanning and Skimming

  • “What do I need to find out?”  Be aware of your purpose before you start reading.
  • Develop efficient reading skills—good reading speed and good comprehension.
  • Before reading, you need to scan the chapter.  This involves looking at the introduction, headings, graphics, and diagrams.
  • Skim each section: the opening paragraph, the 1st sentence in a paragraph, sub-headings, and the final paragraph.
  • While skimming, let your eyes roam down the page, concentrating on the center part, searching for key terms.  Train your eyes to roam down the page reading and anticipating groups of words.  Practice moving your hand or finger down the page to train your eye to move quickly.
  • Don’t read 1 word at a time.  The rate of skimming should be at least twice as fast as your normal reading.  Slow skim information that looks important and select and take notes or fast skim information that is not relevant.

Ways to Reduce and Streamline Notes

  • Use a new page for each new topic.
  • Write on one side of the page only.
  • Space your notes; write on every second line.
  • Leave margins to note key points and areas of difficulty.
  • Use abbreviations and symbols.

Guidelines for Note-Taking

  • Take notes selectively.  No NOT write down every word.  Remember that the average teacher speaks 125-140 words per minute, and the average note-taker writes about 25 words per minute.
  • Be brief.  Write down the main points and supporting information in words and phrases, not sentences.
  • Don’t be concerned with spelling and grammar.
  • Write legibly.  Notes are useless if you cannot read them later!
  • Organize notes into some sort of logical form.
  • Simplify ideas into your own words or even diagrams.

Outline.  Use lettering, numbering, indentation, and bullets to divide and summarize ideas.

  • Topic Sentence or main idea.
  • Major points providing information about topic.
  • Sub-point that describe the major point.
  • Supporting detail.

Mapping.  Good for showing how information interrelates.  Used for difficult concepts and the visuals are easily taken in for students with spatial memories.

  • Chemistry

§   Atoms                                                                      Bonds

  • Protons                       Neutrons                         Electrons                       Ionic                        Covalent
    • Methods

Charting.  Best used where you have several types and different categories to bring together.

  • Tips for Finding Major Points in Lectures
  • The teacher is usually making an important point if he/she:
    • Pauses before or after an idea.
    • Uses repetition to emphasize a point.
    • Uses introductory phrases to precede an important idea.
    • Writes an idea on the board/overhead.

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