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Most teachers remind students to take notes during class lectures, but how do you know what to write down?Active listening and purposeful note-taking are critical tools for learning and exam prep.
Worse yet, it seems that taking notes is important to the learning and test-taking process, yet when was the last time you actually learned how to take notes? Fortunately for you most of the learning you’ll be doing incorporates a practical and hands-on approach at IntelliTec College. However, you’ll need to start with book basics before you’re in the shop tuning up a car or in a treatment room applying Swedish massage techniques on clients. No need to take notes here…sit back, read, and let it all sink in.
Note-taking is really a 3 part process:
- Before the lecture begins
- During the lecture
- After the lecture
4 “Before” Note-Taking Techniques
1. Do a little prep work: review notes, take a look at the outline so you have an idea of what will be covered during class, and be sure you’ve completed assigned reading.
2. Sit near the front: not only can you see better, but you can help eliminate distractions.
3. Copy everything from the board/overheard transparency/projected image: especially if it’s an outline. If you’re lucky enough to get the outline as a handout, take notes on it as the teacher lectures.
4. Check your attitude: this is half the battle. Come ready to learn with a positive attitude.
10 “During” Note-Taking Techniques
1. Get ready: with lecture paper and pencil/pen or your laptop ready.
2. Write down the title of the lecture: be sure to date the top and write on the front of the paper only.
3. Watch the speaker carefully: listen for repetition, emphasis, examples and key words such as, “There are 2 ways of approaching this…”
4. Listen carefully to the introduction: (if there is one). By knowing the outline, you will be better prepared to anticipate what notes you will need to take.
5. Be brief in your note taking: summarize your notes in your own words, not the instructor’s. Remember, your goal is to understand what is said, not to try to record exactly everything being said.
6. Try to recognize main ideas by signal words: they indicate something important is to follow. Examples: “First, Second, Next, Then, Thus, Another important…,” etc.
7. Jot down details or examples that support the main ideas: give special attention to details not covered in the textbook.
8. If there is a summary at the end of the lecture, pay close attention to it: you can use it to check the organization of your notes. If your notes seem disorganized, copy down the main points covered in the summary. It will help in revising your notes later.
9. Ask questions: during and after the lecture about points you did not understand.
10. Don’t be in a rush: if you are gathering together your personal belongings when you should be listening (particularly at the end of a lecture), you’re bound to miss an important point–perhaps an announcement about the next exam!
3 “After” Note-Taking Techniques
1. Revise your notes as quickly as possible: preferably immediately after the lecture since at that time you will still remember a good deal of the lecture.
2. Coordinate reading and lecture notes: as soon as you have a free period or before you head home after classes.
3. Review your lecture notes AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK: also, review the lecture notes before the next lecture.
It’s not just what’s in the notes that counts when it comes to learning material. If you set yourself up to learn by taking a few steps before you enter the classroom, you’ll find you’ll want take effective notes. The real payoff is when you take a test and realize the value of great note-taking. It almost feels like the answers were handed to you on a silver platter.