Study Guide

Cue Cards

How To Take Great Notes -

In order to learn effectively from lectures, listen and take notes effectively. This is an active process; it doesn't happen automatically. The following are strategies to learn about how to take notes more effectively:

Step 1 - Before Class

Develop a mind-set geared toward listening and remembering. Test your memory to see if you remember the major points from the previous lecture while waiting for the next one to begin. Acquaint yourself with main leture ideas, new technical terms, etc. Enhance your physical and mental alertness: eat a snack before class, sit in the front and/or center of the room, and focus your attention on the speaker, not your friends or other distracting students.

Step 2 - During Class

Listen for the concepts, connecting theoretical information and terminology in the lecture. Resist distractions, emotional reactions, and/or boredom. Pay attention to verbal, postural, and visual clues as to what is important. When possible, translate the lecture into your own words and make brief bullet form notes in your notebook. Be consistent in your note form, abbreviation, etc. Ask questions, as many as it takes to understand the lecture theory. Instead of closing your notebook early and getting ready to leave, listen carefully to additional information given toward the end of class.

Step 3 - After Class

Clear up any questions raised by the lecture by asking either the teacher or classmates. Fill in missing points or misunderstood terms or terminology. After arriving hime, redo your notes more formally by expanding lecture concepts, terminology, etc. Edit your notes, labeling main points, adding recall clues or pictures. Key points in the notes can be highlighted with various colored markers.

Step 4 - Periodic Review

Review your notes as often as you can. Glance at your recall clues, pictures, etc. to see how much you can remember before rereading your notes during studying. Look for the emergence of themes, main concepts, methods of presentation over the course of several lectures. Make up and answer possible test questions with friends or classmates.

Remember, the more you study and reread your notes, the more you will be ready to take tests and final exams. Remember, in university, students will have many classes that only have a mid-term and a final exam. Two marks, that's it! Normally, the mid-term exam is worth 30 to 40% and the final can be worth 60 to 70%. If students don't teach themselves how to take good notes and learn how to study effectively then students may not earn the marks that they want to continue on in their programs of study.