How to Build a Good Note-Taking Technique

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Note-taking, by definition, is simply, a way of concisely recording important information from your lectures or reading so that you can recall them later. Note-making on the other hand is the process of reviewing, connecting synthesis ideas from your lectures or reading.


Methods of Note-Taking

Note-taking is a skill that we use in many walks of life, at school, university and in the world of work.

1. Don’t be too wordy

You are not supposed to write everthing! As simple as this may sound, it may become tricky picking out the most important information from a lecture so you may be tempted to just put down everything being said. If you tried to write down everything, you are most likely to lose track.

2. Be an active listener

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You can’t successfully jot down information if you are not paying absolute attention to the lecture or to the book you are reading. If you aren’t listening, you can’t deduce the important information. It is easy to drift off while the lecture is on but having the mindset of getting down point will enable you get down vital pieces of information.

3. Employ use of symbols/abbreviations

You don’t have to be formal when taking notes, reason being that note taken is meant for you alone and often for preparation for tests, examinations etc. Trying to write the whole texts of what is said may be cumbersome for you since information comes often too quickly so it’s safe to adopt the use of abbreviations and symbols.

Some common abbreviations include:

  • Opportunity: Opp or Op
  • Appt——- Appointment
  • Address: Adr
  • Estimate: est.
  • Example: e.g.
  • ASAP—– As soon as possible

4. Stay Consistent

if you are writing long hour lectures, don’t be tempted to take a lot of notes for the first 10mins and nothing at all for the rest session. Ensire that you pace yourself and gather information consistently throughout the lectures.

5. Be Caligraphic

You are writing fast, trying to capture as many information as you can, at the same time, try to ensure you are making use of a clear and fine handwriting. Make sure what you are writing is readable not minding how tired you might have become.

5. Spelling errors are forgivable

Forget spelling errors and grammar  mistakes. These things don’t matter as long as your notes deliver a clear meaning. No one is going to penalize you if the spelling isn’t right because what is of much importance is the information put down.

Getting familiarized with the five R’s of Note-Taking

Pauk, W.(1989), in his book titled “how to study in college (4th Ed)” highlights an easy way to remember the most important points of note-taking using the five Rs…

  • Record: Make sure you put down all meaningful information in a legible manner during the lecture,
  • Reduce: As said earlier, don’t be too wordy. Just summarise all written ideas and facts using keywords after or during the lectures.
  • Recite: For proper study, always try to recite all ideas in your own words without looking at your text or note.
  • Reflect: Think about your own opinions and ideas as you read over your notes. This will help you relate with the information better and make you remember easily. You can also raise questions and answer them yourself.
  • Review: Before reading or studying new material, take a few minutes to quickly review your past notes. skim over the important ideas or details. The review helps to boost the retention of old material while adding new material to your memory.

Importance of Note-Taking/Note-Making

  1. Taking notes during lectures helps you to remind yourself of what was said.
  2. Note-taking helps you get your doubts cleared.
  3. Note-taking helps to increase attention in class as you have to listen carefully and attentively to each word being said in the class.
  4. Note taking keeps your mind from wandering.
  5. It helps to provide material for your subsequent reading.
  6. Making notes helps to organize ideas and make connections.
  7. In the brain, we cannot store all kinds of information together. So note making is an alternative to storing information for a longer time.

Note-taking and Note-making will help you really. It is a recommended way of getting more from lectures and a very assured way of passing exams excellently.

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