Note-taking in lectures
Why take notes?
- To help you remember what is said.
- To help you concentrate on what is being said.
- To assist you in understanding the subject and to succeed in your studies.
- To provide valuable details for writing essays and preparing for exams.
- To offer 'hints' about what your lecturer considers to be the significant aspects of the course.
There are three stages of note taking: before, during and after the lecture.
Before the Lecture
- Read the set readings, texts, or study guide.
- Preview the appropriate sections of the textbook or study guide for
- Key concepts (which may appear as margin notes)
- Chapter summary or concluding paragraph
- Note down the key topics or ideas you identify in your readings.
- Mentally re-run the previous lecture.
- Write down the date and title/topic of the lecture and note down the lecturer's name.
During the Lecture
- Use active listening, which is characterised by:
- Concentrating on what the person is saying.
- Listening for the main idea.
- Remaining focused and not tuning out when the message seems familiar.
- Consciously focusing on the sender's non-verbal communication.
- Trying to identify the relevance of the information to you.
- Being prepared to ask if you don't understand.
- Watch for cues, body language and 'verbal signposts' such as slowing down or repeating something to emphasise a point. Watch for phrases such as:
- “Let me illustrate by…” (an example)
- “You don't need to know this for the exam, but…” (irrelevant detail)
- “This term means…” (a definition or main point)
- Work out how the lecturer uses overheads and PowerPoint. Don't just rely on them. Make sure you add in more from what is said.
- Take clear, accurate notes
After the Lecture
- Read over your notes as soon as possible.
- Clarify anything that you remember missing during the lecture.
- Add notes or examples from your readings.
- Organise your lecture notes.