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Whether you are taking notes in class or taking notes from your text, there are some study systems that can help you.
Read the chapter paragraph by paragraph. Read and re-read until you can answer the question: “What did the author say in this paragraph?”
Once you are able to describe what is in the paragraph, you will want to retain that learning by underlining, making notes in the margin, or making notes in your notebook.
Cover up your notes or printed page and recite aloud. Remember! If you can’t say it now, you won’t be able to say it tomorrow in class, nor write it in a week on an exam; So while you still have a chance, try and try again, until you can say it.
Look over material critically. Skim through the book and read headings and anything in bold or italic print. Check out the pictures, charts, graphs and/or maps. Read the summaries at the end of chapters. Get an overall idea of what the author is trying to communicate.
Formulate questions about what you’ve surveyed. If a heading reads, “The Five Elements of Fiction,” think, “What are The Five Elements of Fiction?” If you see a word in bold, think, “What does this word mean?” Read study questions included as part of the text. If you think it would be helpful, write your questions out.
Try to answer the questions you’ve formulated while you read. Pay special attention to underlined, italicized or bold printed words or phrases. Take your time when reading difficult passages, and reread passages which are not clear to you.
Orally ask yourself questions about what you’ve read. Try to create a concrete, detailed mental picture of the facts you need to remember. The more senses you use, the more likely you are to remember what you read – so try seeing, saying, hearing, visualizing and writing. Spend more time on recalling than on reading.
Look through the text and your notes frequently. Do you remember the important points? It’s better to review for one hour each night of the week than for five hours the night before a test. Make flash cards for concepts that you are still have problems remembering: Write a key word or question on the front of an index card, and write the corresponding explanation on the back of the same card. Quiz yourself.
Learning to take good notes in class is an important skill, which can help ensure success in college. The facts that the professor emphasizes in class lectures are most likely the items that will be on quizzes and exams. Note taking involves good listening skills and being able to discern key ideas, supporting ideas, as well as details and examples from a lecture.
The following suggestions present a modified version of the Cornell Method, which was developed by Dr. Walter Pauk of Cornel University. This system of note-taking has worked for many students.