The Art of Good Note-taking in College

The Art of Good Note-taking in College
The Art of Good Note-taking in College
It’s well-known that taking good notes is crucial to our success in college. Not only does note-taking require that we pay attention throughout the entirety of a class, but it also helps students begin absorbing a lecture as they hear it. Even so, not all of us are skilled in the art of good note-taking. Here, we will discuss a few helpful note-taking methods you can incorporate into your next lecture.

First, get a feel for what kind of class you’re taking. Some professors build their lectures almost entirely around PowerPoint slides, highlighting relevant information with bullet points. If this is the case, you can usually print the slides before class and follow along with the professor as they lecture. PowerPoint even allows you to print the slides off with note lines so you can jot down any talking points the professor adds that are not included in the slides. You’ll take very few notes in a class like this, so as long as you keep your slides dated and organized, all you will need to do is hole-punch them and put them in a three-ring binder for future study.

However, not all professors use PowerPoint. It is best to buy individual notebooks for these classes or bring in a laptop, since typing is far faster than writing by hand. Get in the habit of dating each class’s notes and skipping lines so that you can flesh out your notes and fill in the gaps after class. Draw a star next to or underline any topic that the professor discusses at length, as you will certainly see it later on a test or quiz. If typing, highlight and bold these topics.

What freaks most students out about classes that require a lot of note-taking is that the professor talks much faster than they can write or type. The good thing is you can learn to develop a personal shorthand, and to capture only the most crucial points your professor makes. This means creating your own bullet points instead of complete sentences. If your teacher says, "The Battle of Gettysburg took place July 1-3, 1863, in Pennsylvania and was responsible for the largest amount of casualties in the entire American Civil War, serving as a turning point in favor of the Union Army," your notes should look more like this: "Gettysburg. July 1863, Penn. Most deaths. Union turning point."After class, fill in the gaps as quickly as you can while the information is fresh on your mind, and you’re well on your way to good note-taking.
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