Learning how to take and organize class notes is one of the most important ways you can advance your academic skills. Class lectures provide context for textbook learning and provide insight into the main learning outcomes for the subject. If you develop an organizational system right away, you are more likely to have positive academic skills and habits. It is critical that you decide what works best for you. Begin by creating an organizational strategy for note taking while you are in class, and finish with a system to maintain your notes in an orderly fashion.
The key to taking effective lecture notes is to learn as much as you can about what your teacher values. Each teacher differs in the way they communicate subject points. Outline the lecture by writing down main content headings and anything that is emphasized by the teacher. After class, go back and add more information. This will give you more time to catch the main points during class. Be sure to put a date at the top of each page when you begin taking notes so you can track the sequence of the content delivered by your teacher.
Create A Filing System
Use folders and a box to create a filing system for your class notes and materials. Keeping all of the materials for each class together will help you track notes, worksheets and other resources. When you go to class, take your folders so that you have everything at your fingertips. If your folder gets too full, create a second folder. Use the first folder to hold all of your general materials and the second folder for just what you need to take to class. All the folders can be placed in a small box and stored in a convenient place. After school, grab the folders you need to do your homework assigned for the next day.
Class Notebook System
Using separate notebooks for each class also is an effective strategy for organizing your notes. Color code your notebooks by class so it will be easier for you to grab what you need between classes. Each day, be sure note the date at the top of the page so you can find test information easily. If you run out of room in your notebook, use a second, but be sure it is the same color so you remain organized. If you prefer using one notebook, select one with enough sections to cover the subjects you are taking.
If you have access to a laptop and if the instructor allows it, try taking electronic notes. Create a folder for each class and use them to store everything including assignments, notes and information from your teacher. If you can, scan your papers and assignments and store them in the subject folders as well. Make sure you back up everything on a flash drive or external hard drive too.
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