How to Take Notes in Class
Lots is happening in class – you’re paraphrasing, physically writing or typing notes, looking at the professor and your notebook or digital device, and more. Attending requires a lot of you any any given moment.
It is likely that in trying to keep up with the pace of the lecture, insufficient attention will be put towards understanding the actual content of the lecture. Therefore, during lectures, be smart about balancing attention and understanding.
- Is the lecture detail-heavy but easy to understand? Focus on writing as much as you can.
- Is the lecture detail heavy but hard to understand? Focus more on your own understanding, write less, and write more in your own words.
- If it’s necessary to take a lot of notes quickly, type them but disable notifications and turn on airplane mode. If you’re easily distracted, switch to handwritten notes.
Do my notes make sense to me?
- You will almost always review your notes after you have written them. As you take notes, make sure that they will make sense when you reread them in the future.
- If/when the instructor asks for questions, review your notes by skimming over them quickly
- Look over your notes at the end of lectures. This is the time to fill in any gaps. Are you missing any important details? Ask the instructor while the content is still fresh in mind.
- Because = bc
- Years = yrs
- With = w or w/
- minimum/maximum = min/max
- Example = ex or e.g.
- Change = Δ
- And = &
- Create your own system!
- TIP: During a lecture, write the first letter of each word you’re writing then go back and fill them in later.
If you find that you consistently get caught on specific words, create your own shorthand! If you know that your professor, TA, or teacher really likes using specific language, create your own shortcuts so that you are set up for success.
Know what the point of the figure/graph is and summarize the conclusion of it rather than drawing it out which takes time. If your professor is using slides and you know you’ll get the slides later, note which figure/drawing you’re taking notes on, and write the purpose of the figure. You’ll have the image to add to your notes later.
- You’re not as likely to go back and use a recorded lecture as much as you might think. It takes a lot of time to rewatch. Instead, use the recordings as a backup if you need them. Don’t assume you’ll listen a second time!
- Live lectures offer many advantages – attend them as often as possible!
Why to go:
- Real-time interaction: You can ask questions, seek clarification, and engage in discussions, fostering a deeper understanding of the material.
- Non-verbal cues: You can see non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. These cues can enhance comprehension and help in interpreting the speaker’s intent or emphasis on certain points.
- Active learning: You are more likely to stay focused, take notes, and participate in activities or group discussions, which can deepen your understanding and retention of the subject matter.
- Networking opportunities: Attending lectures in person allows you to connect with fellow students who share similar interests. This can lead to valuable networking opportunities, study groups, and collaborations that can enhance your academic and professional growth.
- Reduced distractions: Being in a dedicated learning space with limited interruptions can improve concentration and overall learning outcomes.