Tips on Taking Lecture Notes

One of the main hurdles of university is processing all of the information given to you during lectures. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of any lecture and take good effective notes…

  • Read the Subject Before the Actual Lecture. If you get a chance before any lecture, try to  read the chapter before, or if you can try to read the presentation itself. You will be surprised at how much more you can retain if you simply even skim through the work before you get to class. One of my lecturers describes it as if you were smelling food before you ate it, it simply heightens your senses (he is a bit mad).
  • Quickly Read what you Wrote Last Lecture. If you ever arrive to class early or have a few minutes before class begins, its a great idea to have a quick look at what you were doing before. This can help you see how to course material flows and makes the teaching seem a lot more cohesive, rather than broken into chunks. Also you might be able to answer a few questions asked and give you a chance to get noticed by your lecturer!
  • Sit as Close to the Front as you can. being closer to the front may seem like something you really don’t want to do, but studies have shown that on average students tend to perform better if they consistently sit close to the front. It may seem obvious but you can hear better and you can clearly see what is going on. You will also find that being closer tot he front means that you have a lot less distracting you.
  • Don’t just Listen, Join In! Although you may not want to, it is really important to try and involve yourself in class. Pay attention and tell yourself that you want to listen, and try to answer some questions. It will make you feel that you are learning more.
  • Take Notes. You may think that its more important to understand to what being said, but its even more important to remember what is said! Taking notes means that you can keep a record of what you actually learnt.
  • When Writing Notes, just Write Main Points and Certain Details. As you are “telling yourself to listen” try to look out for the main points that the lecturer is trying to convey in that particular lecture. If there are any details he/she said which made it easier for you to understand the top jot those down too. Until you got this technique down I would recommend just writing as much as you can!
  • Edit Your Notes After the Lecture. As soon as possible after the lecture, edit your notes. Think back to the lecture, use your textbook, or get together with a classmate or study group to fill in gaps, check for accuracy, clarify meaning, and improve the organisation in your notes. Write questions about the important information in the margin of your notes.
  • Re-Write your Notes after the Lecture. I am not saying to completely re-do your notes again, but you should try to fill in any gaps you may have. Once done you have a great set of notes you can come back to.
  • COME BACK TO THE GREAT NOTES YOU NOW HAVE! You may have spent tons of time making great notes, but they are worthless unless you actually go back to them and re-read them and make sure you understand the concept taught.

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