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Note Taking

Good note taking is an invaluable skill when it comes to looking back during your exam revision and assignment writing.

Follow these five tips to help you make better notes from text books and classes or lectures.

1.  Be prepared – Before you go to a class or lecture do some research into the subject materials so that you have an idea of what will be covered. Make sure you have everything you need for the lecture to make notes, you may need to refer to your previous notes or your textbooks.

2.  Notepad/paper – Will it need to be large enough to make diagrams and pictures as well? Do you need graph or plain paper? You might benefit from having paper that can be pulled out easily and organised into a separate file together with the hand outs from that lecture and other paperwork or materials.

3.  Layout – Some people find that by just writing on one side of the page makes your notes more legible. Also, if this works for you, rule off a column one quarter of the way across the page so that you can make short cues to other information, ideas or thoughts.

4.  Be concise – It will be impossible to write down everything that you hear in a lecture so you need to think while you write. Ask yourself, is that key information? Could it be used for an essay or in an exam? If you are making notes from a textbook, re word the text into your own words, be selective and just stick to the key points. You can also use abbreviations, as long as you know what they mean. If you can pick up some short hand skills this would be advantageous. You can do online courses, or perhaps your college or university may run a short hand course.

5.  Review – Afterwards read through your notes making sure that you understand what you have written and make any amendments, additions and extra notes that come to mind. Do this as soon after the session as possible and don’t leave it until the next day. If you feel that you need to re write your notes you should take the time to do this as it needs to make sense.

For more advice and guidance on making notes please take a look at the links on the right of this page. This includes a link on mind mapping which you might find helpful.

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