writing in school

As you progress from secondary school to the higher institution, you’ll find that your lectures can actually get much more complex. Sometimes it’s not easy taking notes that make sense the next day. So, here are a couple of tricks to help you take sensible lecture notes.

Date your notes
In a perfect world, lecture notes from a single class are kept in a single, dedicated notebook in the correct sequence. But this is the real world! There will be times when you go to a biology class (for instance) and realize that you’ve brought the history notebook by accident. This is how you end up with The History of Nigeria wedged between The Reproductive System.

Establish the habit of putting the date at the beginning of each day’s notes and marking the end of a day’s notes. Also – if you ever have to take history notes in your biology notebook – be sure to start on a clean sheet of paper, mark the date, and tear it out. Then place the loose sheet in the correct notebook pocket.

Ask for a lecture theme
Professors and lecturers usually teach from an outline they’ve prepared ahead of time. They often try to complete one topic, theme, or cycle in an individual lecture – although there will be some overlap some days. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher for the topic of the day or the theme of the day’s lecture.

Note for digressions
Teachers don’t try to make things complicated; they usually try to lecture in an organized pattern, but this is not always easy. Sometimes a student will make a comment, ask a question, or relay a personal experience that pivots the lecture into an unplanned tangent. This will happen.

When this does happen, strange things can happen to your notes. For instance: A student asks a question and the teacher answers. The teacher digresses, and then jumps back onto the planned lecture.

But the students don’t always realize the dividing line between digressions and planned lecture, so they keep writing furiously, not indicating any break or interruption in the flow of the teacher’s thoughts. The next day, the lecture notes will make little sense. To avoid confusion, always indicate in your notes when a student asks a question or the class breaks into a discussion.

Highlight new vocabulary
Any time a teacher writes a word on the board, put a circle around it, underline it, or draw pointy arrows around it. If a strange word pops up in your notes, you can bet it will show up on a test.

Remember, you must know more than the definition of a new word. You must know how it fits into the big picture.

On a final note, take a look at the topics the teacher covers and see how those compare to the chapter titles and subtitles of the textbook. Chances are, things will start to make better sense when you see how the author, himself, arranged them.

Good luck!