Attention key for great notes

(Photo by Justin Van)
(Photo by Justin Van)

Many of us remember our freshman year when we spent the first week of school reviewing the little pamphlet “How to get Good Grades”.

This little pamphlet provided us with a wealth of good study tips and note taking habits which we promptly ignored and/or forgot. So now, with it being the spring semester, I have the task of telling you once again how to take notes that you can actually use to study and better yourself.

The first step to taking any halfway decent notes is paying attention in class. If you are sleeping, you are not listening and if you are not listening then you are not writing anything that will help you when you are up at 3 in the morning the night before the test trying to learn a few chapters of material in one night.

In addition to listening you should make an effort to write legibly. If your “s” looks like “~” or your “g” looks like a “y” then you have essentially written nothing as you will not be able to read it later. The key to success here is to write neatly, but not take too long. If you take too long then you will miss other material as your teacher moves on in the lesson, but you still want to write legible notes that cover everything the teacher is referencing.

Something to help with that seemingly impossible task is to write in short hand. Short hand is “a method of rapid note-taking by use of abbreviations and symbols” according to Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia. If you do not want to take the time to learn a shorthand style of writing as most of you will not, then use simple abbreviations. Above all make sure that you understand your shorthand style as, once again, notes are useless if you can’t understand them.

Focus on key words that are bold on the power point or that the teacher enunciates. Your teachers are perfect indicators on when you should be writing down what they are saying. If they are repeating the same phrase over and over while striking the podium a la some of our own teachers, then they probably want you to write down the words that are escaping from their mouth.

They either want you to pay attention or have had a stroke and are trying to tell you they need medical attention. Many teachers post their PowerPoints on StudentPlus for you to review at your leisure. Use them. The PowerPoints provide all of the material that you have based you notes off of and the opportunity to use them to review with you notes is an excellent way of studying for a test.

In review, the best method to notetaking involves paying constant attention in class. This is followed by an attention to detail in the neatness and quality of the notes, and ends with even more attention towards your teachers.

Erich Hennings is a Junior at St. Thomas. He started working for the Eagle fall 2015. His job entails writing opinion pieces for the paper and formatting and writing other articles for the web edition of the paper. His office hours are 3:00 PM-4:00PM every Tuesday and Thursday. He can be found in his office, a 2006 beige Toyota Camry which can be located on the second floor of the parking garage on the south side of campus. He is willing to accept donations to help him fund his work; working as hard as he does gives him a tremendous appetite.