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Like reading, note-taking is a skill which must be learned and refined.
Almost invariably, note taking, or the lack of it, is a constant deficiency in the study
methods of many high school and college students. Learning the ingredients of good note
taking is rather easy; applying them to your own situation depends on how serious you are
in becoming a successful.
Where to keep notes
You must learn to keep notes logically and legibly. Remember, if you can't
read your writing a few days after taking notes, they are of little use. By all
accounts, the best place to keep notes is in a loose-leaf notebook. Use dividers to
separate the different classes you take. Make it a habit of using the notebook to record
all notes. If you're caught without your notebook and need to take notes, always have
a supply of loose-leaf paper with you. Insert the note papers into the notebook as soon
as you can. Be sure to buy a good notebook, as it will get a lot of wear and tear.
First of all, don't underline. Use a highlighter. Experience has shown
that text passages highlighted are more easily remembered than the same passages
underlined. In outlining a text, don't just read along and highlight what seem to
important words. That technique rarely works.
Reviewing and revising
As you prepare for examinations, tests, or other assessments, you should
spend time reviewing and revising the lecture notes. Begin the process by reviewing your
notes right after a lecture. If you wait too long, you may discover that the notes just
don't make sense. Don't hesitate to revise the notes based on the review process.
Taking lecture notes
Taking accurate and concise lecture notes is essential. Develop the habit
of taking notes using appropriate methods described earlier in the
SQ3R technique. For
example, when you listen to a lecture, formulate questions as you listen. Your main job in
taking lecture notes is to be a good listener. To be a good listener, you must learn to
focus and concentrate on the main points of the lecture. Get them down, and then later
reorganize them in other words. Once you have done this, you have set the stage for
successful reviewing and revising.
Any form of note-taking that requires compilation of information by
categories, rather than in narrative form is best done using index cards. You can sort,
edit and arrange index cards to suit your particular study needs. The most important point
in using cards is to indicate the correct reference or topic at the top of the card. Use
the cards for study, review, to help organize information for papers, reports, or
projects. An even better idea, if you have a personal computer, is to organize your
categorical information in a database. Once you set it up, finding, updating and adding
new information is quite easy. If you have a printer, you can print out the notes in a
variety of ways.
If you just hop into a strange car and race across a city you've never
visited, you'll probably be in for a rough ride that doesn't get you where you want to go.
The same thing is true of reading. Knowing how the brain effectively speeds the mental
processing of print and knowing how to find what you want produce the best results. People
have researched the behaviors of rapid readers to see how the eyes behave and how the eyes
and brain work together to produce such good results. Consider the following points as you
search for a way to increase the speed reading and efficiency of reading.
No doubt you’re tempted to take notes as you are reading material for the first time.
But this is not an efficient technique as you are likely to take down too much information
and simply copy without understanding. Try this method instead.
- Read a section of the textbook chapter. Read just enough to understand the material. Do
not take notes, but rather focus on understanding the material. Think before you write.
- Review the material. Locate the main ideas, as well as important sub-points. Paraphrase
this information. Putting the textbook information in other words forces you to become
actively involved with the material.
- Write the paraphrased ideas as your notes. Do not copy information directly from the
Add only enough detail to understand.
- Review, and compare the notes with the text and ask yourself if you truly understand.
Psychology of speed reading