How to take good notes during lectures

Do you have a hard time concentrating in class and taking notes? Good notes are necessary in order to be able to study. If your notes are clear and well organized, it will make your life easier during exams. Here are some helpful tips:

1. Sit near the professor – Students who sit near the front of the class usually take better notes. There are fewer distractions and it is easier to concentrate.

2. Do not try to write everything down – Concentrate on the main points and the examples your professor gives.

  • Time – Often, the more time a professor spends talking about an idea, the more important it is.
  • Blackboard and projector – Information the professor communicates in writing on the board or using the projector is probably important.
  • Videos and films – If the professor takes the time to show a video, it is probably about something important.
  • Repetition – Repetition of an idea is another sign that the information is key.
  • The professor – If the professor looks closely at his or her notes before saying something, it is most likely important.
  • Summaries - usually cover the most important points to remember.

3. Leave blank spaces if you are having trouble keeping up – After class, fill in the spaces with things you remember. If you forget something, ask a classmate if you can borrow their notes, or go see your professor.

4. Use a 3-ring binder for each subject – It is easy to add pages or handouts.

5. Do not rewrite all your notes – This takes time. However, rewriting key information (for example on cue cards or review sheets) can help you understand and memorize course material.

6. Compare your notes – Compare notes with other students in your class. It will give you a chance to see how others take notes and to find out if the important points you noted were the same as those noted by your classmates. You will probably find that your own notes are not so bad after all.

Reference : Fraser, Lisa. Making your Mark. Ontario : LDF Publishing Inc., 2003.

Stop by the Mentoring Centre. We can give your more ideas and show you different methods on how to take better notes.

You can also register for our free workshops.


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