The Commons
note taking Unless you’ve got an unusually gifted memory, just listening to lectures is not enough. Just reading Powerpoint slides is not enough.
You need to take notes in order to :
  • Help yourself concentrate
  • Have information to study later, using techniques that let you say and do things to help yourself.
Even if your instructor gives you notes, it helps to still write down examples, quick drawings, points that were stressed, etc.-some of these can help you remember information later.

Be sure to check out the great resources from University of Delaware

Ways to Improve your Notes arrow View
Be ready to start. Important information is often given right at the beginning of class. Have your paper and pen/pencil ready. Bring a back-up pen, & two colours of writing implements or a highlighter.

Use a note-taking system. “Cornell note-taking” not only keeps your notes organized, but provides a review and study notes in one easy step.

Review previous notes. If you scan the last few pages of class notes, you’ll be ready with the terminology fresh in mind. You’ll save time by not having to rewrite points you know are already in your notes.

Do the assigned readings. This will save you time and confusion during class, because you’ll be familiar with the terminology and concepts. You can even prepare yourself with abbreviations for longer words.
Cornell Note Taking System arrow View
Set up a double-width left margin, and a 2” margin at the bottom of each page (can draw a line or just fold).

Take notes in the space indicated above.

On the same day as the lecture, review the notes, writing cue words or questions in the left margin for the information beside it.

Write a brief summary in your own words in the bottom margin when a section of information is logically complete

Presto! You have instant study notes! To use them, simply cover up your notes, and recite what you remember from just looking at your cue words or questions (simulating a test question). Uncover to check your recall.
Common Abbreviations and Symbols arrow View
Depending on your writing speed, Instructors generally speak faster than you can write. Help yourself out by abbreviating some words. You are less likely to fall behind and your hand won't be as sore at the end of class!

Common Abbreviations & Symbols:
w/ with
bkgd or bg background
w/o without
eg example
b/c because
imp. important
ltd limited
env environment
ppt precipitate
vs versus

↑ increase
↓ decrease
→ leads to, causes
∆ change

Go ahead and make your own abbreviations — just make sure to note them in your margin so you know what you meant later on. For example:
Ps photosynethesis
Ps-ic photosynethetic
Ps’ing photosynethesizing