Tips for Taking Notes

Listening for Good Note Taking

Prepare to Listen
Have all assigned work and readings completed. Review your notes from previous class sessions. Think about what you know about the topic that will be covered in class that day.
Be Happy to Be There
Choose to find the topic useful and interesting. Be committed to learning all that you can.
Be Open Minded
Be receptive to what your teacher says.
Be an Active Participant
Ask for clarification when you don't understand something. Evaluate what is being said and try to anticipate what will be said next.
Discern the Most Important Points
You cannot write faster than your teacher can speak. Make decisions about what to write. If you feel you have missed the most important points, ask your teacher to repeat what s/he has said.
Avoid Distractions
Focus on what your teacher is saying. Turn off your smartphone and close any programs that might distract you from note taking. Do not sit next to your closest friends or your secret crush. Sit close to the front and center of the class and maintain eye contact with your teacher.

Resources for Good Note Taking

Dartmouth College's Academic Resource Center offers some excellent worksheets, tips, and videos for improving your note taking skills.
Keep in mind the 3Rs:
review regularly
recite (repeat key concepts from class)
reflect (connect class ideas to other notes and readings)

Getting a Fresh Start for Second Semester

The beginning of second semester is a good time to do some winter cleaning for your year-long courses. Store away your notes and materials from first semester and keep only current class materials in your binder. Storing your notes prevents you from losing a large portion of the year's work should you misplace a binder, but gives you a ready source for studying for final exams. Follow these tips to begin the second semester in an organized fashion:
  • Store your first semester work. Use folders, accordion folders, hanging files, an empty desk drawer, or even a box.
  • Separate your materials into groups such as notes, handouts, tests, and quizzes. Decide what you need to keep in order to help you prepare for your final exam.
  • Order each group by date.
  • Clip all of the groups together with a large binder clip and label the packet by unit(s) or chapter(s).
  • Put the entire packet into the designated folder or space for safe-keeping.
Once you have stored your class materials, evaluate the condition of your binders. If they are falling apart, or the rings are not closing fully, it's time to get a new binder. Getting a new binder will both help to keep your papers safe and organized and will give you a feeling of a fresh start - a great motivational tool during the long months of winter.


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