Did you think that taking notes is only associated with high school? If you did, then you’re all wrong. Are you in college now, and your teacher refuses to deliver their lectures slowly for everyone to write them down? You may have a hard time trying to catch and remember everything they say if you’ve never done note-taking before. But if you think this skill is tough to acquire, you’re mistaken again! Here are 5 tips that will make you an expert note-taker.
Be Attentive“Attending a course or a presentation makes no sense unless you take notes,” say many college professors. It sounds really simple, but it may prove to be really difficult in practice. “While in high school, kids tend to write down everything their teacher says. It is reassuring for them, and if they cannot do it, they start to panic and don’t listen to the tutors anymore,” explains the teacher. “I constantly watch my students raise their hands, asking me to repeat what I just said. And then I hear them moan in disappointment if I venture to rephrase it”, says a History and Geography professor at one of the schools.
How do you know what is essential and what is not? First of all, you only have to take notes of the main ideas and disregard examples. Unless, of course, they are really vital. In addition, most teachers repeat important ideas or information several times. That’s what students say:
- “When our history and geography teacher says, ‘do not forget that ...’ or ‘remember that ...’, that means we have to write it down”.
- “If my teacher speaks slower and louder, it’s a signal for me that I need to write it down.”
That said, it doesn’t mean you have to write everything in your workbook. It only makes sense if you don't understand something and want to have it in writing.
Understand What We Take in NotesBeing an effective note-taker requires thorough preparation. How? By rereading your notes before going to class. That way, you’ll be able to have a brief idea of what you are going to talk about. Choose a quiet place (you can chat quietly with your friends), and take your pens and notebooks out.
Be ready to write things down as soon as your teacher starts their lecture. Then, put yourself in the listening mode. Rereading your notes is also quite helpful while preparing for a challenging assignment. You can refresh your knowledge and even benefit from someone asking you to "complete coursework for me" — you have all the necessary information written in your notes!
You don’t have to take notes as soon as your professor utters their first sentence. If you do, you risk missing something significant. So, before you start writing anything down, you should make sure you understand what the speaker is talking about. Otherwise, you won't be able to take notes of what was said.
It is impossible to capture the essence of someone’s speech unless you understand what they’re talking about. If you do not follow your professor, you shouldn’t hesitate to tell them about it. It is the advantage of taking notes.
Use Abbreviations and SymbolsTaking notes is something that you can learn. To take notes quickly, you must get rid of everything that hampers your understanding. In other words, avoid the articles and use infinitive verbs. Make use of abbreviations — don't try to write down words in full; it is a waste of time. For example, you may write “gvt” instead of “government” or “W” instead of “work.” You can use your own abbreviations, but if you have chosen one, you must stick to it.
Also, remember to leave a margin and space between the lines (if you need to add some information). Some professors advise students to take notes from left to right according to their level of importance. It helps to visualize the lesson plan.
Complete Notes After ClassDon't wait for a week before you reread your notes. What seemed clear to you in class may not be so a few days later. By then, you will have forgotten the context in which the statements were made. So, reread your notes before you go to bed. Underline, highlight, and complete them, if necessary. “When I can not remember what I meant by this or that, I usually ask my teacher to explain that before the class,” says a student.
PracticeEven if you have a feeling you cannot keep up with the speaker, you should still take notes. Just leave blank spaces and fill them in afterward. The worst thing would be to give up too quickly. It is precisely by means of training that one progresses and finds their own method. You will also see that with some professors and in some classes, it is much easier. You can also practice at home. Why not take notes while listening to your favorite podcast?
If you still have trouble taking notes, don't panic: It's frequently the high school where you have to start mastering the art of note-taking. That said, it is still a good idea to be prepared for it.
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