Tips on note taking

Brainstorming by flickr user Marco Arment

Have you ever been sitting in class, furiously scribbling down every word the professor is saying and thinking to yourself “there HAS to be a better way to do this!”?

Brett & Kate McKay on the blog The Art of Manliness, offer some great study and note-taking tips: http://artofmanliness.com/2012/01/27/write-this-down-note-taking-strategies-for-academic-success/

So how do you know what the professor’s main points are? Pay attention to cues your professor gives off either consciously or subconsciously. Here are a few cues your professor may give during the lecture. Whenever you see them, it probably means he’s saying something important, so write it down.

  • Anytime the professor says, “You need to know this,” or “This will be on the test.” Duh.
  • Anytime the professor repeats himself.
  • Anything the professor writes on the board or includes in a Powerpoint slide.
  • Anything the professor repeats very slowly so that it can be taken down word for word.
  • If your professor starts talking more quickly, or loudly, or with more emphasis.
  • Watch for language that shows relationships between ideas. These sorts of points are often where professors get their exam questions from:
    • first, second, third
    • especially, most significant, most important
    • however, on the other hand
    • because, so, therefore, consequently

There are some great tips on the page, as well as the comments. What are some of your best study or note-taking tips? Share them here or on our Study Skills guide!

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