...since we can't know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless
to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love
learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs
to be learned." ~ John Holt
Reading is a thought process that involves figuring out what is important, what you
need to know, and how you will use the information. Asking questions enhances this
thought process by focusing your attention on key ideas and the connections among
Read with a dictionary. Look up words you do not understand.
Start by becoming familiar with each text. Do a textbook reconnaissance. This can
be very short, but find out what is in your text. Do textbook tabbing to make your
textbook a useful tool. Try the SQ3R method. Francis P. Robinson, an Ohio State University
psychologist, devised this system during World War II. The aim was to help military
personnel enrolled in special programs at the university to read faster and to study
You may want to write questions in the margins or make notes. If you do not want to
write in your text, use post-it notes or stickies. You can even get see through ones
to use as highlighters. Make your text your own. Make it a good tool to use for review.
Many texts have review sections in each chapter - mark these.
After reading your assignment, do not just close the book. Review in your mind what
you have read. Tell it in your own words. Look again at the headings, bold face words,
and questions. Make sure you understand and know the concepts. Come up with some possible
Reading a science text or math text will probably take you longer than reading a history,
English, or other type of text. Make sure you understand the examples and diagrams.
Ask for help in understanding. Most instructors are more than willing to help.
Textbook Tabbing by Eldon McMurray
Web Pages for Reading Strategies
Note Taking Skills:Dos:
- Be an active listener.
- Select ideas to write down.
- Want to pay attention.
- Go to all classes.
- Come Prepared.
- Be familiar with the material to be covered in class - read or skim material before
- Sit away from distractions.
- Review your notes soon after class and create a study guide for yourself.
- Write every word.
- Do not buy ready-made notes instead of taking your own notes.
- Be negative.
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.
Reflect, Relate, Apply: Making Notes You Can Use
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.
- Review, review, and review your notes.
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
- Great final review or review for a test.
Cornell Method of Taking Notes
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