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Answered By: Jeneen LaSee-Willemssen
Last Updated: Nov 18, 2015     Views: 599

Want to make sure you get the most out of your notes?  Follow these tips!

Step 1:  Observe

  •    Start by entering the classroom (physical or virtual) with a positive attitude.
  •    Make a conscious effort to pay attention.
  •    Be prepared to take notes from the instructor as well as from videos, e-content, PowerPoints, etc. 

Step 2:  Record

  •   Start each new lecture on a new notebook page.  Date and number each page   and keep them organized.  You may choose to do this digitally as well.
  •    If using a paper notebook, write on only one side of the paper for neatness.
  •    Keep your notes short, focusing on the main points.
  •    Develop a system of abbreviations and symbols you can use wherever possible.
  •    Note all unfamiliar vocabulary or concepts.

Step 3:  Review

  •    As soon after as possible, go back and fill in words and phrases that are unclear.
  •    Compare your notes with the textbook reading and fill in important details in the blank spaces you left.
  •    Note anything you do not understand by underlining or highlighting to remind you to ask the     instructor.
  •    Review your notes after 24 hours to help fix new information to long-term memory.
  •    Consider making flashcards or mind maps from your notes and use these to test yourself regularly.

Note-taking Methods

  • Outline –  Illustrates and organizes major points and ideas.
  • Mind map – Guides thinking and helps create distinctions and connections
  • Chart – Provides visual review for memorization of facts and relationships
  • Cornell method – Divide your note paper into three sections:  notes in the right column, key words and questions in the left column, and a summary at the bottom of the page. This can be done in a paper notebook or electronically (for example, a table in Word).
  • There are also other methods. Follow this link to Dartmouth College's Skill Center on note taking. The handout on taking lecture notes gives extensive advice on some techniques you can use to make your life easier!

Use Critical Thinking Skills

  • Rephrase what you are reading in your own words. In your e-book, you can type an immediate note on the page/paragraph you are reading.  Example:  “This basically says ____.”
  • Notate your opinions about a particular paragraph/section.  Example:  “I think this is interesting because ____.”
  • Document why this section is important for you.  Example:  “The instructor mentioned this 3 times in live lecture.”
  • Think ahead:  Where will this note fit into a paper or help you prepare for a test?  Examples:  “This will be a great point for the first part of my research paper.”

*Remember, your e-textbook allows you to view the notes you take in multiple ways (i.e., all on one page, via thumbnails, etc.) for easy reference.