There are several styles of note taking which are appropriate for college. Listed at the bottom are some of the methods.
Whatever style you choose, here are some basic ideas.
- Write on only one side of the page.
- Leave lots of space on each page, for adding headings, making connections, jotting down questions or details later.
- If you use spiral notebooks, buy the kind that have perforated pages and holes for putting those pages into a three-ring binder. This allows you to tear out pages and insert additional pages, as you process and re-process your notes.
- Label subject, date, and number each page.
Processing your notes within 24 hours of the class period is a final step in making sure you get the most out of attending each class. Note processing can be divided into three stages: reflect, relate, and apply.
Here is an overview of what processing your notes means:
- Read through your notes. Get a general sense of the material.
- What is the topic? What is the point of this lecture in the context of the course?
- Identify parts of the notes. Group information as well as you can, using natural breaks, headings, etc. Review the overall structure and see if it makes sense to you.
- Evaluate your understanding of each piece of information in each group. Can you explain it in your own words? Look up terms and concepts you do not understand.
- Evaluate the significance of each piece of information in each group. Can you identify the relevance of the information in the context of the lecture and of the course?
- Edit your notes to reflect your understanding. It should now be possible for you to rewrite your notes in a manner that will be useful both now and later. If your notes are clear, you might make connections or groupings, identify examples, or write down your own thoughts directly onto your existing notes. If you find that your notes are not well arranged, you might want to rewrite portions of them, using any note-taking style that seems appropriate for the nature of the material.
Adapted from Get the Most our of Class at http://web.duke.edu/arc/documents/
This is a good document with other ideas about getting ready for class.
Note Cards: Advantages of note cards
- You use more senses to create them - this helps you to remember the information. You can also use a different voice each time you go through them.
- They are very portable. You can pull them out of your pocket to study while waiting in the car, on the bus, etc. They help you make use of small blocks of time.
- Each week go through all your note cards. Put aside the ones you know. The ones you do not know keep in a stack to go through every day. At the end of the week, repeat the process.
- Great final review or review for a test.
Modified Cornell Method of Taking Notes
Helpful Abbreviations for Notes
John Sperry method for Math Note Cards: This is a good method for both method and vocabulary note cards.
Web Pages for Note Taking Skills
Reading and Note Taking Skills Home Page
Learning Strategies Home Page