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Note-Taking Strategies

There are several different methods students often use. You should determine which method is best for you, and then tailor the method to your tastes and preferences.

Method One: Student will prepare a skeletal outline by organizing the table of contents based on the syllabus. Then the student will fill in the skeletal outline with his or her notes and case briefs. This student will condense his or her notes throughout the semester, creating an outline to use to prepare for the final exam.

Method Two: Student will prepare for each class by creating case briefs and taking notes on the information. At the end of each chapter or section, the student will take notes and combine them to form an outline.  There are 3 variations students often use:

  1. Two-Column System: Use two column notebook paper and record notes on the right side of the page and summarize the notes on the left side of the page using key words.
  2. Single Page System: Use a single piece of paper to record notes and brief cases. Use one side of the paper for the case brief and use the other side of the piece of paper for recording notes prior to, during, and after class.
  3. Bullet Point System: When taking notes, the student simply puts the information into a word document or on a piece of notebook paper using bullet points.

Here are some helpful hints on what to include in your notes:

Don’t try to write down everything: Focus on paying attention to the process the professor takes the class through.

Hypothetical Questions: Pay special attention to these questions posed by your Professor. Students often see them again on final exams.

Terms of Art: Note any “terms of art” or concepts that the professor mentions. Often you will notice that these “terms of art” are chapter or section headings.

The Rules: If a Professor states the rule from the case, make sure it is the same language you have in your notes. This goes for any exceptions to rules as well. An A student will be able to provide not just the rule, but any exceptions.

Professor vs. Students: Note any specific comments made by your professor, and be able to differentiate your professor’s comments from other student’s comments.

Be Organized and Flexible: Choose a note-taking system that works with your learning style and the course materials.