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Note taking is a skill that requires you to do things before, during and after each lecture.

Before the Lecture:

  • Read all assigned material; highlight important information and make notes.
  • Review previous lecture notes.
  • Sit near the front of the class.  There are fewer distractions and it is easier to hear the instructor.

During the Lecture:

  • Write the date and course on each page.  Write on one side of the page only.
  • Pay special attention to the beginning and end of each class.  Often the beginning will be a summary of the previous class; therefore you can review your notes.  During the last five minutes of class the instructor may include key information and instructions for the next lecture.
  • Be an active listener.  If your mind is wandering, write down the distracting thought in a notebook or in your day planner so you can deal with it later then refocus on the lecture.
  • Be brief; focus on the main points; do not try to write down everything.
  • Use abbreviations and symbols.
  • Leave space to add more information later.
  • Be creative; make your notes your own, use colour, pictures and diagrams to keep you engaged.

After the Lecture:

  • Review your notes ASAP after lecture.  50-80% of new material will not be retained if it is not reviewed within 24 hours.
  • Review your notes within a week and test yourself in key terminology.
  • Review your notes again in several weeks to gain long-term memory retention.
  • Reworking your notes, rather than simply re-writing them will help you to retain the information.