Saint Louis University

Improving Your Notes

Before lecture

1. Increase your background knowledge:

  • Complete reading assignments before lecture.
  • Review notes from previous lectures.
  • Think about what you know and what you would like to know about the subject.

2. Write down the lecture information as fully and as meaningfully as possible. Use rapid writing, abbreviations, and phrases.

During lecture

1. Choose your seat wisely. If possible, sit in the front and center section of the class is the easiest place to stay alert and participate in class discussion.

2. Date handouts and notes.  This will help you remain organized when you review your notes.

3. Become an active listener. Focus on what is said, emphasized and written on the board. Mark down concepts for which you would like further clarification.

4. Pay close attention toward the end of the lecture. Sometimes instructors will try to cram half a lecture in the final 10 minutes.

5.  Stay behind to ask the professor or TA if you need clarification on ideas OR make a plan to visit the professor's office hours.

After lecture

1. Within 24 hours, reread notes and fill in missing parts (especially the information gained after talking with the professor or TA). Check spelling.

2. Underline or highlight key words and phrases in the lecture. Use a sheet of paper at the end of your notes to record these words and phrases.

3. Review your notes weekly by doing the following:

  • Compile your list of key words and phrases.
  • Turn key words into questions and recite the answer.
  • Check your answer by looking through your notes.

4. Form a small study group that meets regularly for 30 to 60 minutes to discuss the lecture and notes. This will help to make sure you continuously review your notes and help if you are missing any key details of the lectures.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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