When taking college courses, it’s essential that you can write down the important information from the professor’s lecture if you want a good grade. This is especially true in large, lecture-based classes.
While some people find it easy to take quick notes, others find it more challenging. For students who struggle to write fast enough in class, here are five things that you can do to improve.
1. Prioritize. To take better notes, you don’t necessarily have to take more notes. You just have to make sure you write down the important stuff. When attending lecture, it’s important to pay full attention and listen to what the professor is saying. That way, you can better judge what is important information that could appear on your test and what isn’t. After the first exam, you’ll probably have a better idea of what kinds of information you really need to write down.
Does this professor rely mostly on the book for test questions? Or do the test questions come mainly from the lecture? The answer to that question will help you decide how many notes you need. When in doubt, write it down.
2. Develop shorthand. If you find there’s a term you are writing over and over in your notes, make a shorthand. There are standard abbreviations, like “w/o” for “without” and “iff” for “if and only if.” You can also come up with your own. For instance, “EG” for “economic growth” or “org” for “organism.”
3. Use a laptop. Many students can type notes faster than they can write by hand these days. If this is the case for you, and your professor allows laptops in class, you might try taking notes on your computer. Just don’t get too distracted!
4. Use a recorder. Reporters often use tape recorders when they go to important interviews, to make sure they can listen to the conversation again if they miss anything in their notes. This could be something you try for class, too. Small tape recorders are inexpensive and of increasingly good quality.
5. Use the buddy system. Two heads are better than one for a lot of things, and certainly for note-taking. If you think you might have missed something while taking notes, an easy way to check is to check your notes against a friend’s. Having someone else from the class is also very helpful when it comes time to study for the test!
These are some ways that you can improve your note-taking skills in college classes. Good luck!