Taking Notes

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"No-Fail" Guidelines for Effective Note Taking/Listening Skills

1.  Be prepared!  Always try to have your reading assignment done before class.  That way you know in advance what the class  will cover and it will make more sense to you!

2.  Avoid talking with friends who will distract you, and get to class on time.   Let the teacher know that the course is important to you. 

3.  Communicate with the teacher.  Nod your head, smile, and have good eye contact.  Let the person know that you're listening and comprehending.

4.  Listen for verbal clues.  Teachers often stress what's important by using phrases like:
"It's important to realize. . ."
"You should know this. . ."
"This will be on the test. . ."
"Oh, I forgot to mention this. . ."

5.  Learn to "read" your teacher.  Notice voice inflections, facial gestures, body language, etc.  When an instructor gets "excited" about information, you can bet that the information will probably be on the test.

6.  Make sure that you attend every class session.  Classes held just before a test are crucial, for teachers will most generally hold a review.  (This gives them a chance to emphasize the material that will definitely be on the test  They will usually tailor the last part of class the day before the test  to the content of the exam. )

7.  Date your notes.  Use a separate notebook for each class or get a notebook that has dividers in it.  Organization is the key to good note-taking.

8.  Be neat!  It's frustrating to study from messy handwriting!  When studying for a test, you might want to type up your notes which helps  a) cement the ideas in your mind as an active review, and b)  make the notes easier to read. 

9.  Use abbreviations!  It only has to make sense to you!

10.  If the instructor writes on the board, that's your cue to write it down also.  It will be on the test!

11.  Listen for an "order" to the lecture.  You can tell when the speaker says, "There are four essentials to taking notes," that there will be four points that you had better write down.  If you don't end up with four, ask the speaker or another classmate for the details.

12.  Look over your notes  after class.  Reorganize them or recopy them if necessary.  Fill in any missing information or anything that might make the notes more clear to you.  Write in details and examples.  Don't wait until the test time to do this.  You won't remember the fine points of the lecture.

13.  Review, Review, Review!!!  Review your notes.  Without review, you will forget 80% of what's in your notes (and you will have to re-learn this information later on!).

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