March 11th, 2008 Jamie
You can’t copy down an entire lecture, word-for-word. If you did, you probably wouldn’t be able to focus on the content; you’d be much too busy trying to get all the words down. That’s why it’s important to know which information to keep, and which to let go.
Drawings, Diagrams, and Charts.
If you’re a visual learner (like me!) you should try to copy down as many of the graphs & charts your teacher shows as possible. In fact, if something isn’t making sense, it wouldn’t hurt to make up your own diagrams and charts, too. Imagery such as diagrams (like the internal workings of the kidney), as well as flow charts of processes (like how a bill becomes a law) can be easier to visualize during tests.
Charts and graphs are one thing you don’t always need to copy down. Often times they are used simply to underscore a key point. However, if your professor tends to use lecture material heavily in tests, those charts or graphs could pop up again, and you’ll want them to look familiar!
Read the Professor.
One of the best ways to know what information is important is to key in on your professor’s verbalization and attitude (as the NY Times wisely suggests). Your professor will give you hints about what is important, so watch out for topics that cause the following:
- Louder speaking voice
- Increasingly zealous body language (like arm-waving, pointing, etc.)
- Verbal clues (lots of professors will actually say, “This is important!” or “You don’t need to copy this down.”)
- Visual clues (like circling something, drawing on an overhead/laptop, adding a star, etc.)
- Repetition of certain words, phrases, or concepts
- Asking the class to repeat something back
All the above indicators mean he/she is talking about something important, so be sure you write it down and LEARN it!
(Also check out Note-Taking Tips Part 1: Keeping Your Notes Organized)
Entry Filed under: academics