Do you write down everything you hear—then get overwhelmed when it’s time to study? Save time—and improve your grades—with this note-taking system.
Step 1: Write what you see Always copy what your teacher writes on the board or shows on a projector. If she’s highlighting a point, she considers it important—and studies show she’s twice as likely to include it in a test.
Step 2: Listen for signposts Listen for what psychologists call 'signpost words,' terms or phrases that are precursors to whatever the teacher considers especially relevant. Examples are 'remember,' 'first,' 'the most important thing is,' and 'finally.' If you hear these phrases, write down what follows.
Step 3: Invent a shorthand You don’t need to know shorthand; just make up your own using initials, abbreviations, and forms of words like 'cd' for could, 'wd' for would, 'w' for with, and 'n' for not.
TIP: Be consistent with your shorthand—so you’ll remember what it means!
Step 4: Rewrite When class is over, rewrite your notes—this simple step improves your retention by up to 80%.
FACT: Only about 20% of what’s covered in a lecture makes it onto the test.