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PAR 5 Note-taking Strategy

This method is based on the Cornell Method. 

Learning from lectures involves more than just sitting in class – start the process before class and finish it after 

Before the lecture

Preview: get ready and get interested

Look through chapter; skim chapter headings and summary; look over course out-line; find out what you’re going to be learning about; start thinking about the topic.

During the lecture

Actively listen and select

  • Listen to the beginning—is there a plan for the lecture? If so, write it at the top of your page
  • Work out how your professor shows that something is important— What does he/she say? e.g. says it’s
    important/writes it on the board/ underlines it/repeats same point...
  • Keep your preview in mind as you listen—maybe the same points emphasized in the chapter are going to be important here

Record: divide page; use right hand column (see over-page)

  • Don’t try to write everything down—be selective; focus on the important ideas
  • Leave room to add more details later
  • Try to write down key words and concepts rather than sentences
  • Abbreviate in a way you’ll understand later
  • Also note to yourself what was happening—e.g. here prof. gave an example, digressed to answer a question, etc.
  • If you forget an idea before you finish writing it down, show that you did this
    i.e. the concepts in cell division were?

After the lecture

Revise: within 24 hours of the lecture

  • Read over your notes
  • Fix unclear points; use your textbook or compare notes with a friend to fill in gaps or places where you got lost

Reduce: use the left hand column to label the ideas in the lecture

  • Use labels to summarize the points of the lecture
  • Try to think like your prof—why did he/she include this point? Why give these three examples? What major points was she/he trying to make?
  • Get a sense of how the lecture was organized
  • Categorize ideas into main themes

Recite: talk your way through the lecture points

  • Read the labels but cover up the right hand side—see if you can recall what was there
  • Talk your way through and elaborate on points
  • Try to “teach” ideas out loud or do example problems
  • Check that you understand—make a plan to follow up on anything you don’t (ask prof next class, ask a friend, etc.)

Review: remember that reviewing leads to retention!

  • Create graphic organizers such as maps or matrices to organize and learn the concepts from the lecture
  • Test yourself on the ideas from time to time
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