Have you ever wondered why certain students in the same classes as you have much better, easier to read notes than you do? Chances are these students are not particularly smarter than you or pay any more attention than you do. Note taking is an acquired skill. These good note-taking students have learned a few key secrets about what is important to write down and how it is best to organize information. Fortunately for you, we clear up the mystery of how these students are doing this by offering you these note-taking tips.
Jot down the most important points.
If teachers use an overhead projector or a chalk-board, it is easy to copy down what they are emphasizing. Be sure to write down key things they say about each main point as well. If teachers do not write down their lectures, then it pays huge dividends to really listen to what is being said and get a feel for each individual teacher's particular style. Some teachers stress certain points more than other teachers would. For example, some teachers may be more concerned with you learning specific facts such as dates and times, than other teachers whom may be more concerned with you learning more abstract, big picture ideas. It pays to pay attention.
Don't write down every single word.
Writing down everything a teacher says is counter-productive. Do try to write down as much as possible of what the teacher is stressing, but don't panic and try to do too much. It is more productive to write down key points the teacher is stressing and then sit back and listen and reflect on what is being said. After class sometime, get out your notes and review them, adding any relevant comments or things you learned in addition from listening.
Compare and contrast your notes to your text book and your class-mates notes.
Doing this will reinforce study material and check for any errors or omissions. Also, it will provide an opportunity to go over materials again and again, as well as to make some new study partners.
Make sure your notes are legible.
Copy your notes onto a new, clean sheet of paper if you must in order to read them. Some students find it hard to write nicely when rushed for time. Relax and write down what you can, and then go back over things later.
If you just scribble some random notes down in a note-pad, rip out the sheets and forget them in your bag, then you will be very likely to get confused. Instead, have a separate folder or notepad for every class or subject and keep things together. Write down the dates of class at the top of each sheet and be sure to keep track of what's what. Doing this will save tons of time and improve your note-taking efficiency and effectiveness.
These are some basic note-taking tips. It's up to you to use them and put them into practice. It takes time, patience, and a commitment to academic excellence to fully maximize these study tips and produce great, hard-won notes. Work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labor!