Your lecture notes are important. Everything you’ll write here can contribute to your success as a college student. If your lecture notes contain all the important information your professor discussed, it’ll be easy for you to review and study. Having a well-written and complete lecture notes means you’ll have a reliable material to use whenever, wherever. However, having lecture notes which are either incomplete or doesn’t contain essential information can have the opposite effect. You’ll end up clueless on what to use in order to study. Or in some cases, you’ll be cramming because you have to wait for a friend to finish using her notes. To ensure that these situations don’t happen to you, techniques for taking lecture notes should be used. Here’s how you can do it:
1.) Preparation is key: Aside from bringing with you your devices (if you’re planning to use your laptop or smartphone to take down notes) or pen and paper, reading your lecture notes from the previous discussion can go a long way. Once you have an idea of the concepts covered, it’ll be easier for you to write them down. You don’t have to have second thoughts whether or not you heard a word correctly.
2.) Don’t let shyness stop you: If you’re new in a class or just too shy, the farthest seat from the front will always be your top choice. However, sitting at the far end of the room will make it hard for you to listen to what the professor is saying. Not to mention the distraction you’ll have to manage from the people sitting in front of you. Don’t let shyness get in the way of your note-taking game. As much as possible, pick a seat in the front row. You’ll be able to hear every information better and if you have questions, you can ask your professor right away without having the entire class hear it.
3.) Don’t write down every single word: It might be tempting but writing everything your professor discussed isn’t always the best choice. Doing this is not only impossible but you’ll lose the chance to actually listen to what he’s saying because you’re too occupied trying to recall everything he said. This will also hinder you to allow the information to sink in because you don’t have the time – between looking at your professor and writing down every single word he says, you can’t possibly stop and think things through. For you to take lecture notes like a pro, learn to create balance. You should listen and if you think certain information is important, jot them down.
4.) Use a Dictaphone or your smartphone: If you’re allowed to bring gadgets in your classes, consider using a Dictaphone or your smartphone’s voice recording features. These are very useful especially if you write in a slow pace or you want to make sure that you have a back-up. You can listen to the recordings after class and write them in your notes. However, you shouldn’t use these devices to distract yourself in class or for you to sleep. Being caught doing any of these is never a good way to start your school year.
5.) Always pay attention: Regardless of how you sugarcoat it, there will always be professors who give boring lectures or deliver a lecture in a boring way. Note-taking will become a challenge with these professors but as long as you’re paying attention, it can be done. You shouldn’t zone out even for a few minutes because this will only require more time for you to catch up. Worse, you’ll be frustrated because you can no longer understand what the professor is talking about. Remain focused in class so you’ll be on the right track of the discussion.
6.) Highlight, highlight, highlight: Sharpies and markers are requirements for every student and it’s easy to see why. In your lecture notes, highlight information which the professor stressed as important. Words or phrases which are highlighted can be easier to remember and you’ll be signaled which ones are actually important. If you’re leaning towards using this trick, only highlight after class to avoid distraction. You shouldn’t also use your notes as a wall art so only use highlighters in moderation, never overdo it.
7.) Use abbreviations: You’re the only person who will use your notes so making sure that it looks presentable isn’t really a requirement. If you’re more comfortable in using abbreviations, go ahead. You can use w/, 2 or da in your sentences. Using abbreviations instead of the exact words is easier to write and can save you time. Just make sure that you can understand every abbreviation you’ve written or else you’ll end up looking at your notes for hours trying to determine what “gal” means.
8.) Say no to distractions: You might be focused to come up with the best lecture notes for a subject but once your phone beeps for a Facebook notification, your interest can disappear immediately. If you’re using your laptop to take notes, make sure that there are no tabs opened. MS Word or other note-taking apps or software should be the only things seen in your screen. The same goes for your smartphones. Turning off Wifi connections from these devices can also help. The lesser temptation, the easier for you to focus on your notes. But if you’re using the traditional pen and paper to take down notes, keep all of your devices away. Put them in your bag or under your chair.
9.) Type notes afterwards: Aside from taking down the most comprehensive lecture notes, typing them afterwards can also help with your retention. When you’re typing, you’re recalling everything you’ve written, making it easy for you to remember important information.
10.) Don’t forget to share: If you’re surrounded by classmates who you’re already comfortable with, don’t be afraid to share your lecture notes to them. You might have picked up information which they haven’t or vice versa. Collectively, their notes and yours can result to a more concise material.
Practice Makes Perfect
You might be able to remember what your professor discussed after the class but after a few days (or even hours), you’ll not have the same retention. With the number of subjects you have in college, you’ll easily forget the content of these discussions! This is why you should always have lecture notes. You should write down important information so you’ll have a guide once you study. Coming up with the perfect note-taking technique might be tough, but with patience and practice, it’s achievable.
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