Note taking tips!

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Apr 5, 2013
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I'm horrible at taking notes. My hand writing is awful and I always forget what the professor is saying (apparently I cannot write and listen).

What is your note taking strategies?

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I do not often take notes, but when I do, it's Cornell.

Cornell-style note taking.
Maybe try taking notes on a computer/iPad? I did a lot of podcasting in undergrad... that made a world of difference for me.
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I'm horrible at taking notes. My hand writing is awful and I always forget what the professor is saying (apparently I cannot write and listen).

What is your note taking strategies?

Your professor doesn't give you the slides? I would type notes in a laptop and record the lecture.
For difficult classes I try to record the lectures and transcribe them.

If you cannot do this (large lecture room, no recorder, w/e) then try and just write keywords instead of large amounts of information. You would be surprised at how much non-pertinent information comprise some lecture (course-dependent). For instance, just write things like DAPI = nuclei staining, instead of writing every last detail. If you get keywords in your notes then you can do independent learning online, or search through your book for the detailed information.
In class I can never write neat notes so I try to quickly jot down whatever I find important. After class I'll use my book to look through things the professor discussed and fill in the missing pieces. Then I'll rewrite my notes in either Cornell or in color coded sections. It also helps me soak in what we went over in class by rewriting the notes. Exam day comes, no need to cram because hopefully you understood basics after rewriting and if not you have color coded/Cornell/neat notes to read off of! Tada!
At my school, slides are almost always provided, and I take notes on the actual PowerPoint on the computer. Some people print out slides and write on that. In addition, lectures are video captured, so I can go back and re-watch something I may have missed.

The key is to not write down everything. That's just dumb.
Your professor doesn't give you the slides? I would type notes in a laptop and record the lecture.

She steals slides from other professors so they never relate to her tests. She always forgets to post them. I wouldn't expect her to since it takes her a month to grade an essay and two weeks to grade a test. She gets really upset when people ask her to post them. So I am smart enough to quit asking. :rolleyes:
I never take notes in science courses since all of the information is in the textbook. If I see the professor write something useful on the board, I'll usually just take a picture of it with my phone.

For non-science courses, I just use my laptop and Evernote.

Ahh, the beauty of math & science...
It's been said a few times above, but recording the lecture seems like it might be very helpful for you.

I'll add my 2 cents which is this: I try to re-listen to the recording on the same day (no less than a few hours later) or the next day. This really helps my retention rate. Also, I often follow along in my notes on the second go through to make sure they were accurate/got all the important facts.

Really, you can probably speed up the recording as well. I've gotten used to listening to my lectures at 1.5x-2x (depending on clarity of professor) speed and this really makes re-listening a quick and easy task you can perform while eating lunch or when you have like 30 minutes of downtime in the day.
Well, i made my writing 150% better by following a simple procedure. Get a note book have one piece of paper on the surface of something hard / flat then write on top of that, the results seem much better than opening 3 pages and writing on a unsteady (rather soft) surface
For a class with powerpoint slides:
Print out a copy of the slides and take notes on the slides as you go along. Record the lecture simultaneously and then after the lecture, listen to the recording again, fill in details that you missed. If you want to/have time to, you can write out the information in a notebook in a format that is understandable to you (I did this for a few classes where the slides were crappy)

For a class without powerpoint slides:
Create a "scratch notebook" for each class, and during the lecture, jot down a few key points/questions/etc. Record the lecture, and focus the majority of your time on listening to the professor. After the lecture, go through your scratch notes and the recording to write out a "clean" set of notes in a separate notebook. Backup recording for both formats is recommended.

Does this sound intense? Maybe. But it works, and its thorough, and if you religiously do this for your classes, there's no reason you can't do well.
When you say record the lecture, does this work if you are in a huge lecture hall fourth row from the front with only an iphone? Will that be able to produce a clear recording? I don't want to have to sit in the front because the projector is huge and if you sit in the front you would have to tilt your head way up in order to see anything.
Jesus I hate these types of threads. Its note taking - just press your pen down to your paper and draw letters.
I rarely take notes, and if I am taking notes it's usually something interesting from lecture or useful. I try to not get into the constant rushing of note taking, and just listen and understand the concepts and theories. I find that much more interesting and more fun to go to class.

Kinda funny though that I got a C in a note taking class (some university class about how to perform well in college) but have gotten all A's in my science courses.