No-Nonsense Note Taking

In the age of lecture slides and SparkNotes, many college student wonder why they should bother taking notes at all. Despite professors’ handouts and study guide websites, good old-fashioned note taking is still the best recipe for academic success.

Let’s take a look at a few of the myths surrounding note taking:

  1. Myth: “Once I get my lecture slides from my professor, I don’t need to take notes.” Truth: Getting your lecture slides from your professor is like checking a book out of the library. In either case, the knowledge has not been transferred to you. In order for you to really acquire the information, you need to actively involve yourself an absorbing it. Note taking is one of the best ways to do that.
  2. Myth: “In order to take notes well, I would have to write down every single thing the professor says, and that’s impossible. So why bother?” Truth: Yes, writing everything down is impossible. And while trying to write down every single word sounds like active learning, it’s actually passive learning. Part of your job as a student is to discern which information is important and which is not. You don’t want to be a robot who simply copies words, but a thinker who can proactively sift out pertinent information.
  3. Myth: “Once I take notes, I don’t have to look at them until right before the exam.” Truth: The best way to commit something to memory is to look at it repeatedly. Sure, you could try reading your notes repeatedly right before the exam, but you’ll do a better job remembering the material if you look it over throughout the semester.

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