How Your Revised Notes Benefit You
If you’ve followed the method just outlined, both inside and outside of the classroom, you will have accomplished a great deal and acquired knowledge. Not only will you have notes that accurately represent the lectures, you’ll also have begun to process the material, making it part of your general knowledge. As you will discover, this useful foundation you have built will make preparing for exams much less stressful for you than for most of your classmates.
The important thing to remember about notes is that they are never really finished products. Most students think their notes are done when the lecture is over. This thinking creates problems that come back to haunt them at exam time. These students open their notebooks and find they can’t make heads or tails out of much of what they wrote. Moreover, they have to struggle to memorize these notes as if they are seeing them for the first time.
How should I get notes if I miss a class?
Instead of simply copying a classmate’s notes when you miss class, ask someone to tape record the class for you as well. Then you can use the shared notes and write notes of your own while listening to the lecture.
Nothing says you can’t go back to reread and add to your notes well after a lecture, either. While this should be done each week for that week’s notes, you can keep going back to these notes throughout the semester. As you learn new information, in lectures and reading, you may think back on previous information. You may make connections between different points from different lectures, and in the process, may also gain a greater understanding of earlier information.
This note-taking process reflects an accurate view of how learning takes place. You don’t learn by ingesting entire blocks of information in one gulp. The mind processes information over time. As you hear and read and discover new information, your mind connects it with previous information. What you didn’t understand before may suddenly click into place. As you gain more understanding of something, you make it a part of your overall knowledge. That means it stays with you for long periods of time—right through an exam and beyond.
IMPORTANT NOTE-TAKING POINTS TO REMEMBER
Effective note-taking starts with effective listening.
You don’t have to write down everything the teacher says; in fact, you shouldn’t even try to.
Notes aren’t finished when you leave the classroom; you should continue working with them and thinking about them. This will help you learn the material and save time studying for exams later on.
You don’t need to rely on what the teacher says as your only source of information; feel free to consult other sources for additional information or to clarify points that confuse you.
Develop your own shorthand for taking notes quickly. Just make certain your notes make sense to you.
Maintain a sense of the overall topic of each lecture and note general themes.
This note-taking system can transform your classroom experience, if you choose to follow all or parts of it, by making your reading and lectures have more of a purpose and providing you with a clearer understanding of the focus of your assignments. If you have another system that works better for you, than by all means follow that. These ideas and suggestions can serve as both a supplement to and an overhaul of how you have taken notes up until now.