Problem: Do you find it difficult to locate a particular item of information or to coordinate your study notes with those of a friend?
Solution: Date all lecture notes. Indicate the topic in the upper right hand corner of the page.
Problem: When you begin to study your notes, do you find that you are looking at pages of paper that are covered top to bottom and side to side with writing?
Solution: Two keys: Organization and plenty of white space
- Write only one item on a line
- If several details are given for a particular topic, indent and number these details under the topic
- When the lecture begins a new topic, skip several lines
Problem: When you study your notes, do you find that information that you have under one topic does not concern that topic but actually relates to an earlier topic in your notes?
Solution: Often a lecturer will discuss topic A, then topic B, then topic C, and then go back to give you additional information on topic A.
- If you have skipped several lines after topic A, then you can add this information at the appropriate spot.
- If you do not have enough room, write the information after topic C, but bracket it and draw an arrow to topic A.
Problem: Do you find it difficult to know which points are important?
Solution: A lecturer gives you clues that a certain idea is important by:
- Repeating the idea in slightly different words
- Reading directly from her notes for accuracy
- Writing something on the board
- Using signal words such as major, three ways, first, then, etc.
- Spelling a name or term
- Reviewing information from a previous day’s lecture
Problem: Do you find that the lecturer has gone on to points 2, 3, and 4 while you are still trying to get point 1 down on paper?
Solution: Keep up with the lecturer
- Abbreviate: get enough down on paper that you can go back and fill in the missing part later
- If you miss an entire idea, put a question mark in your notes at this point and ask her to repeat it to you (at the end of the lecture or after class)
Problem: Do you find that your notes make little sense when you begin to study them?
- Don’t write down what a lecturer says verbatim. Try to put the ideas into your own words.
- If you write something down that you don’t understand, put a question mark by
- Try to get it clarified as soon after class as possible. Ask another member of the class, see what the textbook says about it, or check with the instructor.
- Draw quick sketches, charts, or diagrams where they will help you remember a point.
Problem: Are your notes difficult to decipher?
Solution: Immediately after the lecture go through your notes:
- Tidy up scribbles
- Correctly spell important key terms
- Write out more completely those ideas that you may have abbreviated.