Note Taking Help for Class Lectures and Text

Students who take thorough notes in class are able to study in an effective way for both quizzes and tests. In fact, the act of taking notes often helps students to better understand the important points of a lesson. Thorough notes are a valuable asset when it comes time to review for final exams. Learning how to take effective class notes requires a student to listen in a focused manner. The following provides helpful note taking tips for students who want to make the most of class time and explains how a student can develop the skill of focused listening. 

Specific Reasons to Take Notes in Class

  • A professor often provides information in a lecture that’s not in the course textbook. Also, a professor may offer clarification of difficult concepts found in the textbook.
  • A student who takes effective notes is able to sift out important ideas included in a lecture.
  • Effective notes are tools that can be used throughout a semester by a student. By reviewing his or her class notes, a student can absorb course material in a gradual way.
  • When a student takes effective notes he or she can understand the fundamental concepts of a lecture.
  • By taking notes, a student can jot down any hints the professor gives as to what sorts of questions will be on a future test. 
  • Students can highlight any unknown vocabulary words in their notes in order to look them up later.

The Process of Taking Effective Notes in Class

Before class time:

  • Look at the syllabus to see if the professor has written about the day’s lecture. If so, create some pertinent questions to think about during the lecture and listen for answers. (This helps a student to listen in a focused way.)
  • A student should review class notes taken the previous week.
  • Be sure to write down anything that the professor writes down for the class. If the professor writes it down, then he or she feels it is important to the lesson.
  • A student would be wise to select a seat near the professor in order to hear what is being said and see anything that is written down. Plus, if a student is sitting in front of the class there will likely be fewer distractions to deal with.
  • Looking over the previous night’s reading is also a good idea.

During Class:

  • Bring all of the necessary materials for taking effective notes.
  • Make efforts to focus on the professor and what he or she is trying to convey.
  • A student must word class notes in a way that is understandable to him or her.
  • If a professor gives a preview of what he or she will be talking about write down some quick headings to organize the notes.
  • Before class ends, a student should ask for clarification on any puzzling points of the lecture. Chances are there are other students who also need help understanding those points.
  • Write down any announcements the professor has about future quizzes or assignments. By writing them in the notes, a student will see the announcement and not forget about it.

After Class

  • A student must review his or her notes and organize them to make them even more understandable.
  • Keep the notes handy while reading the next assignment for class. They may help a student to understand the assignment in a more thorough way.

General Note Taking Reminders

  • Take notes on only one side of the paper to make the pages more organized.
  • Write clearly so there is no doubt about a word or concept during future study.
  • Highlight the examples or illustrations offered by the professor during class.
  • Abbreviate long words after writing them one time. This allows a student to save time when taking notes.
  • Note the name of the class and the date on the note page. This is especially helpful if a student is taking two classes on a similar subject.
  • Write down any helpful extra reading suggestions given by the professor and put a star next to them.
  • Use loose paper for notes that can be fastened inside a notebook. Some students find it helpful to remove their notes from the book and arrange them on a study table.

Significant Clues from a Professor Given During a Lecture

There are some words that professors use during a lecture that let students know that an important point is being made. An effective note taker (and listener) will notice these ‘clues’ and make special note of those ideas. The following are some examples of those signal words or clues.

  • “Most importantly…”
  • “Three main ideas are…”
  • “For example…”
  • “For instance...”
  • “In conclusion…”
  • “As a result…”
  • “If there is one important thing to remember it is…”
  • “Never forget that…”

A student who practices these note taking tips and learns to be an effective listener will likely have success in any type of class. With a few small adjustments the average student can improve his or her performance in any academic subject.

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