Study Habits for Students - Note Taking Tips
Better Listening and Note Taking
In school, as well as out of school, listening is very important. Good listening is an active process and requires concentration. Unlike reading, listening cannot be repeated (without potential embarassment) if you miss the point the first time. The good listener is constantly thinking, evaluating, and drawing conclusions. In school, be alert to important ideas that are discussed in class. Your teachers and classmates will present material and explanations that you may not find in your textbooks. No one else can listen for you, and someone else's notes are not a good substitute for your own. Improving your listening habits and skills will improve all of your school work. Here are some aids that will help you to train yourself to listen better:
- While listening, look for main ideas.
- While listening, take notes (but don't try to take down everything).
- Revise notes later to clear up points, and fix the material more firmly in your mind for future use.
- Jot down the key words and phrases in a preliminary outline. These notes are for your personal use and should be helpful to you. Notes will not supply all the information in detail, but they will give you a picture in outline form. When taking notes, keep these points in mind:
- Use your own words whenever possible.
- Confine your notes on a chapter to one side of a notebook sheet, if possible.
- Look over your notes a day or so after taking them.
- Underline key words and phrases. If you own the book, you may prefer to underline key words and phrases in the book. However, do not underline a major fraction of the text.
- Make diagrams to clarify ideas whenever this seems necessary or appears to be helpful.
Reading the Assignment
Reading an assignment requires active thinking. What you derive from your reading depends largely on what you bring to it. Good reading requires interest, knowledge, and curiosity. For good reading:
- Make up questions suggested by the main headings. Turn chapter headings and subheadings into questions.
- Read to answer your questions. As you read, watch for the answers to the questions you have raised. It means reading all of the material required by your assignment, but you should be looking for your answers as you read.
- Check your understanding by reciting the answers. After finding the answer to your question, repeat it to yourself. Stop reading at the end of each section, take time out, and repeat in your own words the answers to your question.
- Reread when necessary to clarify any ideas of which you are unsure.
Your best preparation for examinations is regular, day-by-day study. You should set some time aside for periodic review; at least one hour for each subject per week should consist of review. Here are some aids in preparing for examinations:
- Plan a definite examination study schedule and stick to it.
- Prepare and study a master outline of the subject. The master outline is a condensed version of all your notes on lectures, discussions, and readings.
- Try to make up an exam for each course in which you expect to be tested. Then take it, check it. Be serious about it.
- Get a good night's sleep before the examination.
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