Take Power Notes
Maybe you’re one of those who takes notes in class just because it’s what you’re supposed to do–but then you never look at them after the class. Or maybe if you do look at them, you find yourself regularly trying to understand what it is you wrote. Or you wrote it. If so, you need to overhaul your note-taking skills. Taking notes should be a learning experience, and the facts you learn should stick with you.
Getting Started – Tips for Taking Notes
1) The first thing you should ask when you begin taking notes is, “What is the instructor’s purpose, and what is the textbook-writer’s purpose?” This will give you a clue about where the class
2) Make sure you attend all classes. Nothing ruins the flow and value of your notes like a big gap in a critical place.
3) Try to sit in front. This will allow you to see and hear better, and will also decrease the number of distractions.
4) Listen! Taking good notes requires you to listen to the lecture. This also means actually attending the class. Listening to the lecture enables you to pick up on points that may not be covered in the written material for the class. It also enables you to take better notes because you are able to hear the instructor say key words that help organize your notes.For example:
- The instructor may emphasize certain points with tone, volume or gestures.
- The instructor may use signal phrases like, “There are three reasons…” or “There are two points of view…” These phrases alert you to significant points and help you structure your notes.
- The instructor may review at the start of class or summarize at the end, giving you a chance to make sure you have the most important points.
4) Format your notes so that they will be helpful research aids in the future. This means you should record the place and date of the class, the title, and the instructor. You should also number your pages (This way, you can make notes for yourself that so-and-so topic is on page 14).
5) Do your best to write neatly. ; If you can’t read what you’ve written, then you’ve just wasted all of that note-taking effor>t. This might mean that you’ll have to adopt some kind of shorthand method to make up for lost time, but it will increase immensely the value of your notes.
6) ; If you do as we just said–adopting a shorthand method–include a key at the top of the page at the start of the section, telling what each abbreviation means. For instance, if your class is in biology and you don’t want to keep writing out photosynthesis, note in your key that ph= photosynthesis.
7) Highlight key concepts with asterisks or by drawing boxes or circles around them. Also, mark important terms, ideas and concepts with different colors. Indicate uncertainty by circling a question mark by the item–then go back and research it later.
8) Always leave wide margins for your notes. This will allow you to come back in the future to insert other important, related information.
These 8 simple steps will set your
Write it out!
By writing my notes by hand, I am able to focus on the information that is provided and ensure that I understand the topic. For example, to prepare for a biology test, I will go through Powerpoints from my teachers to create my notes. Then I will read the textbook to fill in any details that could have been left out ensuring that I am covering all the content of the course. Writing by hand helps solidify the information by creating a connection between memory and movements as shown in cross-modality learning techniques. After I have done all the notes, I will try to make connections from the course material and personal interests as a way of making the process enjoyable. For example when studying muscles, I would think of what was happening in my muscles during sports practices. These techniques paired with reciting orally and translating my notes have provided me with great results.
Following the completion of the written notes, I then recite them out loud while simultaneously translating to English. As I was part of the French Immersion program, my family and I’s first language is English. Therefore, I translate my notes to develop a better understanding of the topics. In doing so, this allows multiple parts of the brain to work together in hopes of assimilating new knowledge. Usually, I will recite them to my mom who loves hearing all about what I learn. She will usually ask questions that challenge me and create an opportunity to become aware of any gaps in knowledge. This way, instead of simply memorizing the content, I am able to learn and completely master whatever it is I may be learning about.
Split Page Method
The split-page method is exactly what it sounds like.You split the page by drawing a vertical line all the way down the paper.The line should be located 2.5 to 3 inches from the left-hand side of the paper.
So, what do you do with the two sides?
Do not try to write down every word of the lecture when taking notes. Doing so requires you to write at full speed, which means you will stop listening to what is being said. Instead, focus on writing down the main ideas and key points. Watch for cues from the instructor for important points, and be sure to note anything the professor writes on the board.
The left-hand side of the page can have one of two uses. Some students prefer to use the left column for writing down keywords from the notes or questions they may have about the material. This allows them to cover the notes and use only the keywords as prompts when reciting the information. If you use the left-hand column for cues and keywords, be sure to write them down as soon as possible after the lecture, while the information is still fresh in your mind.
The more traditional use for the left side is creating an outline of the textbook by writing down keywords and main points, also known as the Outline method of taking notes. The trick to this method is to keep the information from the textbook and the notes together, and to separate chapters.With this format, a student is able to study the textbook and the lecture notes side-by-side, without wasting time or losing their train of thought by flipping back and forth between notes and textbook.
A variation of the split-page method is to divide the page into three columns. The middle column is used for taking notes in class. The left-hand column is used for outlining the text. The right-hand column is used for writing down keywords, cues, and questions the student may have about the material. This format provides the textbook and notes in one location, and has the added bonus of a cue column. This allows students to cover the first two columns and use the cues in the third column as memory prompts when reciting the information.
Note taking is not a natural skill, although some people are naturally better at it than others are. There is a wide variety of methods for taking good notes, and not all methods work for everyone. The split-page method is easy to learn and easy to use, making it an excellent method for anyone trying take better notes.
THE OUTLINE METHOD OF TAKING NOTES
The outline method of note taking starts on the left-hand side of the paper.The most important points are placed at the left edge of the paper.Less important points, which are typically ideas that support the main points, are indented to the right.Each set of less important points is indented more to the right.It is easy to see, at a glance, the level of importance of the different ideas because of the distance between them and the major points.
An alternate form, which requires a little more thought, is to start with minor points to the left and indenting as points get more important. The alternate outline form is best used in lectures where minor ideas are used to build up to the most important ideas.
With either form, indentation is enough to show the importance of the ideas and the relationship between them. If you would like something more concrete, however, you can opt for using dashes, bullets or a Roman numeral and letter combination for further emphasis. For the sake of speed and being able to focus on the lecture, you may want to consider adding the marks after class when you review your notes.
As the name suggests, the Outline method is a outline of the material, divided into Main topics, SubTopics, and details. Outline notes look something like this:
First main topic
Advantages of the Outline Method
The outline method of note taking has several advantages. The outline method not only shows the content and main points of the lecture, but also shows the relationship between points. With an outline, it is easy to identify the main points of the information, and reviewing can be as simple as turning main points into questions. In addition, the outline is set up so simply that it takes very little, if any, editing for notes to be easily understood.
A major benefit of the outline method is the ability to focus on the lecture. Outlining does not require speed or great detail in the writing, both of which take away from your ability to listen to what is said. Outlining does require that you pay enough attention to the lecture to be able to outline the kn>ey ideas, which can help you retain more of the information.
There are some disadvantages to the outlining method. The outline method can be difficult to use in science and mathematical courses because those courses need more of an ability to show sequential relationships than outlining offers. Courses with fast-paced lectures may also be difficult to outline, partially because outlining requires the note-taker to think about organization.
Mind Maps Method
As a student, you have to take notes for many, if not all, of your classes. You then use these to study for tests and semester exams. But there are problems with this method. For instance, many of us have incomplete notes, and many more take those notes and never again look at them.
Start with the Central Theme
Decide what the central theme of the class session was or what the main concept of the chapter in the textbook is. Write down this main topic in the middle of your paper and draw a circle around it. You could also highlight this main topic.
Now keep listening or reading until you come to what you consider the first major sub-topic. Jot down a key phrase that summarizes this sub topic. Now draw a line connecting it to the main topic, indicating a relationship between the main topic and the sub-topic.
Every time you come to a new sub-topic, repeat this process. Soon it will start looking like a bicycle wheel with spokes, with many sub-topics surrounding one major topic.
As we hinted earlier, you might find it helpful to use different colors of pen…perhaps one color pertaining to each sub-topic or maybe you can change up colors per chapter or day.
As you continue through the book or class, you’ll come to a point that will support a sub-topic. When this happens, draw a smaller circle with a few key words in it, and connect it to the sub-topic. Now when you’re studying your mind map and you see the topic or a sub-topic, it will be easier to recall the points related to each.
The first step to using the Cornell method is to divide your paper into three sections.Approximately 2 inches from the bottom of your paper, draw a horizontal line all the way across the page.Approximately 2.5 inches from the left side of your paper, draw a vertical line from the top to the horizontal line you have just drawn.On standard paper, this will give you a 2.5 x 9-inch section on the left, a 6 x 9-inch section on the right, and 2 x 8.5-inch section at the bottom. It is important that you create all three sections because each section has its own purpose in the Cornell method.
Once you have divided your paper into three sections, you are ready to take notes.The 6 x 9-inch section is your note-taking section.This is where you begin the 6 R’s of note-taking.
6 R’S FOR NOTE TAKING
- Record – During the lecture, record your notes in the note-taking section.The idea is not to write down every single word of the lecture, but to capture the main points.Grammar, punctuation and spelling are not vital, as long as you can read your notes later.You may want to develop your own shorthand or abbreviation method for your notes.Just be sure you can remember and understand them once you’ve left the classroom.
- Reduce – After the lecture, reduce your notes to main keywords.These are cues to help you remember the information, and they are written in the 2.5-inch section to the left of the notes.The cue section is also a good place to note any questions that you have as you go over your notes.
- Recapitulate – Recapitulate is a fancy word for summarize.The summary of your notes goes in the 2-inch space at the bottom of the page.Summarize each page of notes at the bottom of that page.You can also summarize the entire lecture on the last page of the notes for that lecture.Most lists place recapitulation as the last step in the 6 R’s, but it is best to write your summary after you write your cues in the left-hand column.Writing it immediately ensures that the information is still fresh in your mind, which helps you create a more accurate summary.
- Recite – Recite the information.Actually saying it out loud can help to reinforce the learning process.Ideally, you can cover up the note-taking section and use the cue section to jog your memory when reciting.
- Reflect – Think about your notes and the information that you have just learned.Consider how the information can be applied, and how it fits with what you already know.Figure out the significance of the information, and why knowing it is important.
- Review – Review your notes frequently to keep from forgetting the information.If you set aside time several days each week to review and recite your notes, you will not have to worry about an all-night cram session before the exam.