Lecture Note Tips
You are expected to remember, understand and apply information in your instructor's lectures. So it is important that your lecture notes are clear, well-organized and complete. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Prepare for lectures. Before class begins, look at your syllabus and try to form some idea of what you expect the lecture to be about. If you have been assigned chapters in a text, have the chapters read, or at least skim the text for main ideas.
2. Clues. Look for clues that indicate important points. Lecturers will usually indicate what is important by a change in voice, by writing on the chalkboard, by announcing straight-out that "these are particularly important facts," etc.
3. Indent. Use an outline form. Put main ideas out to the left-hand side of the page, and indent for examples or points listed under a topic.
4. Examples. Be sure to write down as many examples or details as possible - even if you can get down only a few words which summarize the example. Generalizations that seem clear to you in the lecture hall will need the support of examples when you study for exams.
5. Use Abbreviations. No one can write as fast as a lecturer can talk, but abbreviations will help you take down more. If some words are used often in your class, invent short abbreviations, for example: Ren for Renaissance; Govt for government.
6. Leave blank spaces. Don't cram your notes together. Leave blank spaces in case the lecturer goes back to a previous point to add information. Spacious notes are easier to study from.
7. Mark questions. Put a question mark by anything you don't understand. Later you can remember what you need to look up in your text or ask the instructor.
8. Use checks. Mark with a check anything that seems especially important.
9. Use your own words. Take down notes in your own words unless you are given a technical definition - then you must use your instructor's words.
10. Sit near the front of the classroom. You will feel more involved in the class if you sit near the front. Research shows that people who sit up front get better grades than those who sit near the back.
11. Don't recopy your notes. And don't tape-record lectures. Again, research shows that it is a much better use of time to take notes once and fill in sketchy parts soon after class than to recopy them or transcribe them from tape-recordings.
12. Go back over your notes. Fill in details and examples soon after class is over. Don't wait. Also, review your notes from the last class for just a few minutes while waiting for today's lecture to begin.