Taking Quality Notes

Taking Quality Notes

Listening and note taking go hand-in-hand. Mastery of these skills can help you earn higher grades. Taking an active role in your classes – asking questions and participating in discussions- will help you listen better and take more meaningful notes.

Listening exercise

Ever wonder why it is easier to learn the words of a song yet you may find it difficult to remember the important ideas from a class lecture? We remember songs more easily because they follow a rhythm. Class instruction generally is not set to music. Most forgetting takes place within 24 hours after you see or hear something, so how can you enhance your ability to retain class information? Follow these steps before class preparation, during class, and after class review.

Before class preparation

Take these active learning steps to make your listening and note taking more successful.

  • DO the assigned reading – Completing the assigned reading will help you better understand and listen to the lecture. Your notes will also be more organized because you already have the background information.
  • Conduct a pre-class review – review prior notes and read the chapter summaries of the required reading assignments. Look for sections you have highlighted as well as main headings.

During class

Be ready for the message and keep an open mind.

  • Listen to main concepts, not just to figures and facts.
  • Listen for new ideas.
  • Minimize distractions. Sit in front of class, away from doors and windows.
  • Decide if concept is not important, important or very important. If concept is not important, don’t write it down, if the concept is very important, write down and put a star or other symbol to designate importance.
  • Ask questions.
  • Be alert to repetition.
  • Watch the board or overheads.