While you are in lecture, try to stay focused and avoid distractions. Those fifty minutes (for undergrad courses) fly by. While taking notes (remember down the center of the page) pay attention to clues. The professor is not going to say, "Write this down", but he or she will give you clues that it is important information. Listen for:
Definitions- these will probably be on the exam.
Repeating- if the professor says it more than once, he is probably not losing his mind; it is probably going to be on the exam so star it!
Fluctuations in voice- if the professor becomes very emphatic about something, he or she probably thinks it's important and it will probably be on the exam.
If you are unsure of what to write down, write it all down (but not word for word, just the facts the professor is providing). Do not worry about misspellings as they are your notes and can be corrected later.
Try using an outline form when taking lecture notes. It does not have to be a formal outline as no one is correcting you, but it may help you to organize your thoughts and what the teacher is saying.
A. Major Point
B. Second Major Point
And so on.
Some students like to use a mini tape recorder to listen to the lecture again. Using a mini recorder is based on personal preference, how in-depth the material is, and your learning style. I found in college that it was really time-consuming to listen to the lecture again when returning home or back to the dorm, but again, it depends. Physiology lectures might be useful to record because it is hard to capture the processes on paper.
One more piece of advice; using this system of organizing lecture notes, re-reading the notes every day and keeping up with the reading, will make studying and acing the exam a piece of cake. You won't need to cram because you will have learned it over time.
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