When, Why and How to Take Notes
Why should you take notes?
can’t remember everything.
notes helps you focus and pay closer attention to what is said.
teachers base their exams on the material they cover during class rather
than primarily on material from a textbook.
provide a record of what was covered during class that can be used in
studying for exams.
When should you take notes?
you arrive at class make notes from the textbook, handouts, and any
material available through the web.
the teacher is providing information about how they teach the class.
the teacher is reviewing the previous class or previewing the current
the teacher is giving instructions concerning an assignment.
the teacher is lecturing.
a video, guest presentation, film, etc.
reading the textbook.
reviewing and discussing course materials with friends.
How do you take notes?
may be in the form of an outline.
may be a series of ideas or subjects followed by bulleted examples or
may be in the form of a concept map.
may be recorded as narrative or in paragraph form with key ideas
highlighted or underlined.
may be highlighted text and notes written in the margins of texts.
may be highlighted text and notes in the margins of handouts.
How do you know what is important to include in your
- Try to
identify the main ideas and concepts being presented.
idea is important when the teacher indicates it is important by:
“in conclusion …”, “the four reasons are …”, “the four steps are…”, “this
is a primary point,” “this is a key issue,” etc.;
a word, phrase, or example on the board or on an overhead;
a word, or point;
a relatively long amount of time on a point or idea;
or previewing a subject; etc.
if an item is likely to be on a test or exam.
Some general hints.
your notes from the previous class before each class.
a shorthand system or a system of abbreviations.
neatly and legibly.
space so that you can fill in any missed material later.
the teacher to slow down if necessary.
Now what do I do with all of these notes?
and organize your notes regularly.
yourself or have a friend quiz you from the material in your notes. Simply reading through your notes is generally not
problems in your textbook similar to those recorded in your notes.
it or not your notes may be useful even after you have completed the