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Old September 29th, 2015, 04:44 PM   #1
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Becoming a better Note Taker?


Hi I am a freshman in college and I have been overwhelmed with the joy of reading tons of chapters in my textbook every week. I have a question for anyone who has done good in college or is a highly credible source. In regards to note taking, should I read each chapter first? Then Should I take detailed notes? Or should I read the chapters over and over again, until I fully understand it, and then take notes? I would love to hear some of your guys approach to note taking.

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Old September 30th, 2015, 04:56 AM   #2
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Hi I am a freshman in college and I have been overwhelmed with the joy of reading tons of chapters in my textbook every week. I have a question for anyone who has done good in college or is a highly credible source. In regards to note taking, should I read each chapter first? Then Should I take detailed notes? Or should I read the chapters over and over again, until I fully understand it, and then take notes? I would love to hear some of your guys approach to note taking.
Well, everybody's the same at first. I don't think you are a bad note taker, but rather that you lack a knowledge base and experience which allows you to distinguish useful knowledge from the less useful in a text and thus you want to take note of basically everything, I guess. At the beginning, you should read texts twice if you don't understand them and then take notes. What I did (and still do because there will always be topics one doesn't know anything about) is to just read a random (handbook/textbook) text about the topic and then read the required text for class so I had some prior knowledge which would allow me to put what I read in some kind of context. Don't worry, with time come note taking skills .
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Old October 1st, 2015, 03:56 PM   #3

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Read the text first by all means. When you re-read it though, focus on the first and last sentences of each paragraph. "A good writer will organize material so that the main points are stated in the first and summarized in the last sentence," said one of my professors, "The rest is just filler and argument." I've been out of college for decades now, but I remember this piece of advice like it was yesteryear. (Now of course he didn't vouche for poor writers... LOL)

As Entreri said, no worries, time is your friend.
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 07:04 AM   #4

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1. There are two main places where students "need" notes. In class, and from their reading. Your approach to note taking may differ considerably depending upon the setting.

2. Class notes. As a freshman, I took notes on everything and that probably is pretty common. Over time I took fewer notes because I learned that note taking diverted me from the lecture. One way to look at is, your paying that Prof. big bucks to distill and impart his years of specialized study into your education, so pay attention.

By the time I was in Graduate School, I was using a note system that confined notes to one page per class, and often those pages were mostly blank. Near the center of the page write the class topic and circle it. That might be done in preparing for the class, and helps focus preparatory reading and thinking. Most professors in my experience, dull and brilliant alike, are lecturing from a structured outline. As the lecture moves from one element to the next you surround the central note with the sub-points in one or two words. Then there are sub-elements to the sub-elements, draw new circles and "titles" for them close, but outside their parents. Connect the circles with lines to help keep everything straight. Lecturers aren't machines, and so may jump from one sub-topic to another illustrating interrelationships; connect those interrelationships with a quick line from one to the other. At the end of the class instead of stampeding out, make a short bullet list of the most important points of the lecture. This technique lets the student put more focus on the lecture, while getting the gist of the information. The technique generally results in no more than one page per class, so for a whole term you might only have fewer 25 pages of notes to review.

2. Taking notes from reading materials. If you own the textbook, overcome your life training not to deface a book. Text books are organized, so generally only a few marginalia are required anyway. A series of personal symbols can remind you later during review what is most important to remember. Until recently, I still owned some of my old textbooks and from time to time reviewed my "notes" written into them. Looking back on those old memory hooks is one way to trace back over the evolution of knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Of course textbooks are generally replaced by better source material, and defacing them with sophomoric notes is a scholastic crime. In my day, when the pyramids were still shiny new, index cards worked better for me than spiral and three hole punched notebooks. The first card would be a color denoting the bibliographic citations with author, title, date, publisher, number of pages, and perhaps a comment on how good the bibliography, notes, and indexes were.

Succeeding index cards (I used white for text notes) might refer to chapter and page, one card per note and even then the note should be brief. If I wanted to note a linkage between notes, each individual card would cite the other. At the end of the book/source, I would append several cards giving my conclusions, reservations, etc. The whole deck of index cards for the book would be filed together. This system made it possible to quickly find specific data for citations while giving me a quick review of the whole book in no more than a few hundred cards. This system for you young people is probably obsolete, but could be easily adapted to a computer based system. In fact, if you have a file for each of your books/sources running searches would be both a snap and very informative in thinking about the subject.

3. Why take notes anyway? For review prior to those dreaded examinations? I've known thousands of students who collect several large notebooks filled with notes, and most of the notes are worthless. Taking them has distracted the student from the more important focus on lectures and the meaning/significance of what is read in the book list. Often they are jumbled together and the result is chaos. So the student loses confidence that they've learned anything as the term progresses. Exam time rouses the student to try cramming a whole term into a few all night sessions trying to make sense of all those notes. By the time they sit down with their Blue Books, they are exhausted and as the test proceeds remembering the relevant points is difficult.

* Take fewer notes, but make them good notes without losing focus on the stuff you are making notes about. Sources should always, always trump notes.

* Review your class and textbook notes before the succeeding class lecture. This reinforces and ties together those most salient points of the class. This is part of preparing for each class session, and, by the frequent review, will strongly implant the important points long before examination time.

* By having a smaller number of notes, and notes that are more relevant and easier to read, review time is minimized and your review will focus on the important stuff. When exams loom, students face their mountains of notes and despair. They recognize the futility of the effort, and put off the review as long as possible. They run all night sessions and gather in study groups at the last minute. I've seen dorm rooms that looked like a hurricane swept every scrap of paper over, under and around everything, even hiding the piles of dirty cloths. Don't do that.

* As exams approach, start early and spend at least as much time thinking as reviewing. Identify your strengths and weaknesses in the examination subject. Strengthen those weak areas by both review (fast), and finding new/better source materials to prop up those weaknesses (longer and slower). During the week prior to exam, reduce your daily preparation efforts instead of increasing them, get plenty of sleep. On the day before the exams, get away from the campus if you can. Go to a movie, take a walk in the woods, go sailing, or visit the local art galleries. Whatever you do, try to relax and purge your mind from the upcoming exam. No drugs or alcohol, eat three proper meals, and go to bed early. Get up on the morning of the exam, and take special care in your appearance. Be sure to take extra pens/pencils with you, and all the needed supplies for the exam.but keep it light. Show up ahead of time, but not by much. Avoid standing around in little groups of students who are frightened to death by the tests, or those who are arrogantly confident. Sit down at your assigned place and get control of your emotions. When the exam starts, do your thing.

Last edited by Asherman; October 2nd, 2015 at 07:07 AM.
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Old October 2nd, 2015, 04:58 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asherman View Post
1. There are two main places where students "need" notes. In class, and from their reading. Your approach to note taking may differ considerably depending upon the setting.

2. Class notes. As a freshman, I took notes on everything and that probably is pretty common. Over time I took fewer notes because I learned that note taking diverted me from the lecture. One way to look at is, your paying that Prof. big bucks to distill and impart his years of specialized study into your education, so pay attention.

By the time I was in Graduate School, I was using a note system that confined notes to one page per class, and often those pages were mostly blank. Near the center of the page write the class topic and circle it. That might be done in preparing for the class, and helps focus preparatory reading and thinking. Most professors in my experience, dull and brilliant alike, are lecturing from a structured outline. As the lecture moves from one element to the next you surround the central note with the sub-points in one or two words. Then there are sub-elements to the sub-elements, draw new circles and "titles" for them close, but outside their parents. Connect the circles with lines to help keep everything straight. Lecturers aren't machines, and so may jump from one sub-topic to another illustrating interrelationships; connect those interrelationships with a quick line from one to the other. At the end of the class instead of stampeding out, make a short bullet list of the most important points of the lecture. This technique lets the student put more focus on the lecture, while getting the gist of the information. The technique generally results in no more than one page per class, so for a whole term you might only have fewer 25 pages of notes to review.

2. Taking notes from reading materials. If you own the textbook, overcome your life training not to deface a book. Text books are organized, so generally only a few marginalia are required anyway. A series of personal symbols can remind you later during review what is most important to remember. Until recently, I still owned some of my old textbooks and from time to time reviewed my "notes" written into them. Looking back on those old memory hooks is one way to trace back over the evolution of knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Of course textbooks are generally replaced by better source material, and defacing them with sophomoric notes is a scholastic crime. In my day, when the pyramids were still shiny new, index cards worked better for me than spiral and three hole punched notebooks. The first card would be a color denoting the bibliographic citations with author, title, date, publisher, number of pages, and perhaps a comment on how good the bibliography, notes, and indexes were.

Succeeding index cards (I used white for text notes) might refer to chapter and page, one card per note and even then the note should be brief. If I wanted to note a linkage between notes, each individual card would cite the other. At the end of the book/source, I would append several cards giving my conclusions, reservations, etc. The whole deck of index cards for the book would be filed together. This system made it possible to quickly find specific data for citations while giving me a quick review of the whole book in no more than a few hundred cards. This system for you young people is probably obsolete, but could be easily adapted to a computer based system. In fact, if you have a file for each of your books/sources running searches would be both a snap and very informative in thinking about the subject.

3. Why take notes anyway? For review prior to those dreaded examinations? I've known thousands of students who collect several large notebooks filled with notes, and most of the notes are worthless. Taking them has distracted the student from the more important focus on lectures and the meaning/significance of what is read in the book list. Often they are jumbled together and the result is chaos. So the student loses confidence that they've learned anything as the term progresses. Exam time rouses the student to try cramming a whole term into a few all night sessions trying to make sense of all those notes. By the time they sit down with their Blue Books, they are exhausted and as the test proceeds remembering the relevant points is difficult.

* Take fewer notes, but make them good notes without losing focus on the stuff you are making notes about. Sources should always, always trump notes.

* Review your class and textbook notes before the succeeding class lecture. This reinforces and ties together those most salient points of the class. This is part of preparing for each class session, and, by the frequent review, will strongly implant the important points long before examination time.

* By having a smaller number of notes, and notes that are more relevant and easier to read, review time is minimized and your review will focus on the important stuff. When exams loom, students face their mountains of notes and despair. They recognize the futility of the effort, and put off the review as long as possible. They run all night sessions and gather in study groups at the last minute. I've seen dorm rooms that looked like a hurricane swept every scrap of paper over, under and around everything, even hiding the piles of dirty cloths. Don't do that.

* As exams approach, start early and spend at least as much time thinking as reviewing. Identify your strengths and weaknesses in the examination subject. Strengthen those weak areas by both review (fast), and finding new/better source materials to prop up those weaknesses (longer and slower). During the week prior to exam, reduce your daily preparation efforts instead of increasing them, get plenty of sleep. On the day before the exams, get away from the campus if you can. Go to a movie, take a walk in the woods, go sailing, or visit the local art galleries. Whatever you do, try to relax and purge your mind from the upcoming exam. No drugs or alcohol, eat three proper meals, and go to bed early. Get up on the morning of the exam, and take special care in your appearance. Be sure to take extra pens/pencils with you, and all the needed supplies for the exam.but keep it light. Show up ahead of time, but not by much. Avoid standing around in little groups of students who are frightened to death by the tests, or those who are arrogantly confident. Sit down at your assigned place and get control of your emotions. When the exam starts, do your thing.
10000/10

Thanks for this piece of artwork
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Old October 4th, 2015, 07:25 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Asherman View Post
1. There are two main places where students "need" notes. In class, and from their reading. Your approach to note taking may differ considerably depending upon the setting.

2. Class notes. As a freshman, I took notes on everything and that probably is pretty common. Over time I took fewer notes because I learned that note taking diverted me from the lecture. One way to look at is, your paying that Prof. big bucks to distill and impart his years of specialized study into your education, so pay attention.

By the time I was in Graduate School, I was using a note system that confined notes to one page per class, and often those pages were mostly blank. Near the center of the page write the class topic and circle it. That might be done in preparing for the class, and helps focus preparatory reading and thinking. Most professors in my experience, dull and brilliant alike, are lecturing from a structured outline. As the lecture moves from one element to the next you surround the central note with the sub-points in one or two words. Then there are sub-elements to the sub-elements, draw new circles and "titles" for them close, but outside their parents. Connect the circles with lines to help keep everything straight. Lecturers aren't machines, and so may jump from one sub-topic to another illustrating interrelationships; connect those interrelationships with a quick line from one to the other. At the end of the class instead of stampeding out, make a short bullet list of the most important points of the lecture. This technique lets the student put more focus on the lecture, while getting the gist of the information. The technique generally results in no more than one page per class, so for a whole term you might only have fewer 25 pages of notes to review.

2. Taking notes from reading materials. If you own the textbook, overcome your life training not to deface a book. Text books are organized, so generally only a few marginalia are required anyway. A series of personal symbols can remind you later during review what is most important to remember. Until recently, I still owned some of my old textbooks and from time to time reviewed my "notes" written into them. Looking back on those old memory hooks is one way to trace back over the evolution of knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Of course textbooks are generally replaced by better source material, and defacing them with sophomoric notes is a scholastic crime. In my day, when the pyramids were still shiny new, index cards worked better for me than spiral and three hole punched notebooks. The first card would be a color denoting the bibliographic citations with author, title, date, publisher, number of pages, and perhaps a comment on how good the bibliography, notes, and indexes were.

Succeeding index cards (I used white for text notes) might refer to chapter and page, one card per note and even then the note should be brief. If I wanted to note a linkage between notes, each individual card would cite the other. At the end of the book/source, I would append several cards giving my conclusions, reservations, etc. The whole deck of index cards for the book would be filed together. This system made it possible to quickly find specific data for citations while giving me a quick review of the whole book in no more than a few hundred cards. This system for you young people is probably obsolete, but could be easily adapted to a computer based system. In fact, if you have a file for each of your books/sources running searches would be both a snap and very informative in thinking about the subject.

3. Why take notes anyway? For review prior to those dreaded examinations? I've known thousands of students who collect several large notebooks filled with notes, and most of the notes are worthless. Taking them has distracted the student from the more important focus on lectures and the meaning/significance of what is read in the book list. Often they are jumbled together and the result is chaos. So the student loses confidence that they've learned anything as the term progresses. Exam time rouses the student to try cramming a whole term into a few all night sessions trying to make sense of all those notes. By the time they sit down with their Blue Books, they are exhausted and as the test proceeds remembering the relevant points is difficult.

* Take fewer notes, but make them good notes without losing focus on the stuff you are making notes about. Sources should always, always trump notes.

* Review your class and textbook notes before the succeeding class lecture. This reinforces and ties together those most salient points of the class. This is part of preparing for each class session, and, by the frequent review, will strongly implant the important points long before examination time.

* By having a smaller number of notes, and notes that are more relevant and easier to read, review time is minimized and your review will focus on the important stuff. When exams loom, students face their mountains of notes and despair. They recognize the futility of the effort, and put off the review as long as possible. They run all night sessions and gather in study groups at the last minute. I've seen dorm rooms that looked like a hurricane swept every scrap of paper over, under and around everything, even hiding the piles of dirty cloths. Don't do that.

* As exams approach, start early and spend at least as much time thinking as reviewing. Identify your strengths and weaknesses in the examination subject. Strengthen those weak areas by both review (fast), and finding new/better source materials to prop up those weaknesses (longer and slower). During the week prior to exam, reduce your daily preparation efforts instead of increasing them, get plenty of sleep. On the day before the exams, get away from the campus if you can. Go to a movie, take a walk in the woods, go sailing, or visit the local art galleries. Whatever you do, try to relax and purge your mind from the upcoming exam. No drugs or alcohol, eat three proper meals, and go to bed early. Get up on the morning of the exam, and take special care in your appearance. Be sure to take extra pens/pencils with you, and all the needed supplies for the exam.but keep it light. Show up ahead of time, but not by much. Avoid standing around in little groups of students who are frightened to death by the tests, or those who are arrogantly confident. Sit down at your assigned place and get control of your emotions. When the exam starts, do your thing.
Thank you for that, it seems in my sociology book for chapter 4 I literally have 8 pages of notes...So I guess you could say for sociology, just focus more on the theories, and vocabulary words. Then later on make links to the real world ( how they are important) so I could memorize it easier. Unfortunately for my sociology class, the professor lectures on a random subject that has really noting to do with any parts of the book. He believes that it is our duty to read the book and know all of the information from it.
So yeah I guess I will just re-read the book again, then I can try to take notes that are more concise and shorter.
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Old October 4th, 2015, 07:49 AM   #7

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I can tell you how I passed my finals after another year of partying. I was saved by the subjects all coming with excellent and voluminous hand-outs. I read them all and condensed each subject into a whole notebook. I then read each notebook and condensed them into pages. I then condensed the pages into lines of information.

The questions in the exam thankfully triggered the short lines, my memory unwrapped the pages, the notebooks, then piles of hand-outs and I spilled it on to the exam paper. I wouldn't recommend it however. Although in order to condense, I'd had to force myself to understand, I couldn't remember a thing of what I'd 'learned' by the time I'd left the exam halls. It was like it poured out of my head never to return. Luckily, for the career I went into, it didn't matter. Funnily enough, being able to assess, digest (but perhaps not maintain) info quite quickly did. Otherwise bosses would have been checking my qualification as faked. Which I suppose it was in a way.

I'd timetabled and locked myself away for 3 or 4 weeks to do that, even providing friends and family a two hour timeslot each day in which they could call or disturb me. Crazy, but it worked. Still does unfortunately.

Last edited by Jim Casy; October 4th, 2015 at 08:09 AM.
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Old October 4th, 2015, 08:05 AM   #8

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I rest my case. There is the hard way, and the easy way. Alright the easy way means you actually have to study and learn, but isn't that the whole point of an expensive program?
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Old October 4th, 2015, 09:27 AM   #9
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I rest my case. There is the hard way, and the easy way. Alright the easy way means you actually have to study and learn, but isn't that the whole point of an expensive program?
Precisely, Asherman; and USC is expensive, even in the old days.
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Old October 4th, 2015, 10:49 AM   #10

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Oh yes! I studied Mandarin there, and my wife's MSLS is from USC. Our granddaughter is a Senior studying Computer Engineering, currently on a year's hiatus. If we had to have paid the same per unit as our granddaughter, we would have fewer listings on our resume's. USC is a very good school, but dearest to my heart is my Auld Mater ... Southern Oregon College up in Ashland, Or.
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