Taking Notes from your Book

Taking notes while you read the book will help you remember what you have read and will serve as a review sheet for preparing for a test. The steps are:

  • Label notebook paper with the chapter, section numbers, and page numbers.
  • Divide the page into three columns; Terms, Examples and Definitions (see table that follows).
  • As you read about principles, properties, and rules, write down their names, define them, and give examples.
  • Graphs, tables, and diagrams often pose note taking problems. How do you take notes without copying the whole chart?
    • Try writing the main points, concepts, processes they show.
    • Describe in your own words the chart and what it means as you would to your friend when on the phone.
    • Record the main terms and any new vocabulary, then why the graph or chart is in the textbook. How important is it? Does it illustrate something in the text or does it introduce a new concept?
    • Finally, if you have access to the electronic version of the textbook, you can copy the graph into your notes. Even a thumbnail like the “Recent Climate Trends” on the preceding page might be enough to remind you of the importance of the graph.
    • Experiment with other techniques; ask your study mates what they do; ask the instructor and TA what they recommend for taking notes on such items.

    Three-Column Example of One Note Taking Technique

    Terms Examples Definition
    Multiplication Principle 1/3x = -15
    3(1/3x) = 3(-15)
    X= -45
    Multiply each side by 3. This isolates the x and allows us to solve the equation.
    Remember: whatever is done to one side of the equation must be done to the other side. The unknown must end up on one side of the equation by itself.
    Bi-pedalism Humans and flightless birds Principal movement is done on two limbs. Humans and kangaroos are bi-pedal mammals. Flightless birds such as the ostrich, emu, and kiwi are also bi-pedal. Some primates like chimpanzees and bonobos occasionally walk on two legs, but this is not their principal method of movement.

    What to do when the reading isn’t clear

    Here are some suggestions to follow when a concept or idea isn’t clear in your Math or Science readings. BreakThru strongly suggests that you print these suggestions out and keep them in your notebook.

    • Go back to a previous page and reread the information to maintain a train of thought.
    • Read ahead to the next page to discover if any additional information better explains the misunderstood material.
    • Locate and review any diagrams, examples, or rules that explain the misunderstood material.
    • Read the misunderstood paragraph several times aloud.
    • Refer to your class and book notes.
    • Refer to another textbook, computer software, or video that expand the explanation of the misunderstood material. You may find the assistance you want on the Internet, but be careful that you don’t accept everything you read there as correct. Double check the information.
    • Textbook publishers now offer many additional resources and practice materials online; ask your instructor if he/she recommends them.
    • Define exactly what you do not understand and call a study group member or friend.
    • Contact your tutor, teaching assistant (TA), or instructor for help in understanding the material.