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Successful Note Taking

Notes help you learn when you are in class, doing research, or studying. Because it is virtually impossible to take notes on everything you hear or read, the act of note taking encourages you to decide what is worth remembering, and it involves you in the learning process in many important ways:

Good note taking demands good listening. The listening skills discussed earlier in this chapter are what allow you to hear what you will be evaluating and writing down. Listening and note taking depend on one another.

Recording Information in Class

Your notes have two purposes: first, they should reflect what you heard in class; second, they should be a resource for studying, writing, or comparing with your text material. If lectures include material that is not in your text or if your instructor talks about specific test questions, your class notes become even more important as a study tool.

Preparing to Take Class Notes

Taking good class notes depends on good preparation.

Preview your reading material. Survey the text (or any other assigned reading material) to become familiar with the topic and any new concepts that it introduces. Visual familiarity helps note taking during lectures.

Gather your supplies. Use separate pieces of 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper for each class. If you use a three-ring binder, punch holes in handouts and insert them immediately following your notes for that day. Make sure your pencils are sharp and your pens aren’t about to run out.

Remember—location, location, location. Find a comfortable seat where you can easily see and hear—sitting near the front, where you minimize distraction and maximize access to the lecture or discussion, might be your best bet. Be ready to write as soon as the instructor begins speaking.

Choose the best note-taking system. Select a system that is most appropriate for the situation. Later in the chapter, you will learn about different note-taking systems. Take the following factors into account when choosing one to use in any class:

Gather support. For each class, set up a support system with two students. That way, when you are absent, you can get the notes you missed from one or the other.

What to Do During Class

Because no one has time to write down everything he or she hears, the following strategies will help you choose and record what you feel is important in a format that you can read and understand later. This is not a list of “musts.” Rather, it is a list of ideas to try as you work to find the note-taking strategies that work best for you. Experiment until you feel that you have found a successful combination.

Remember that the first step in note taking is to listen actively; you can’t write down something that you don’t hear. Use the listening strategies you read earlier in the chapter to make sure you are prepared to take in the information that comes your way.

Exercise #1

Multiple Intelligence Strategies for Note Taking Exercises

Multiple Intelligence Strategies for Test Preparation Exercises

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