Note-taking Tips

Prior to the lecture

Before you attend a lecture, prepare yourself by previewing any relevant course materials, such as the textbook or powerpoint notes. Form questions in your mind that you hope the lecture will answer. Cultivate curiosity.

During the lecture

It is helpful to take some notes during a lecture, even if your professor provides the powerpoint or notes online. Be sure to keep your focus on the lecture at all times. If you cannot keep up with the notes, skip a few spaces and stay with the lecture. If a lecture goes too quickly or the material is particularly challenging, put in more time to prepare before the lecture. Preview the relevant chapter(s) and identify a few sections to read closely so you will already be somewhat familiar with the content prior to hearing the lecture. This will slow it down! Also, find a classmate to meet with after class to compare notes. This is a great strategy because it helps you review actively, and each of you may have caught something different, so you can help each other fill in the blanks.

Reviewing your notes after the lecture

Review your notes within 24 hours of attending the class. Be active as you review your notes, pausing to reflect on content. Below are some models that might help you in identifying ways to review your notes AFTER the lecture:

Other options could be to highlight key words in your notes, or to create flash cards or a list of key ideas. These actions can really make a difference in your ability to stay on top of your material as long as you are consistent in reviewing within 24 hours of each lecture. Don't put this off!

As you read your notes, create a to-do list of aspects that need special attention, such as further reading in the textbook or asking the professor or classmates a question. Save that task list for a future study session, when you can return to the material fresh, and dig a little deeper.

After reading the day's lecture notes, quiz yourself on all key concepts covered thus far in the class. Self-quizzing is a critical step in preparing for tests, and if you engage in a cumulative review three times a week, you will be well-prepared when it comes time for final review for the test.

To read more about the value of reflection and testing yourself on content, read this link on the Six Hour D.