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Back To Uni: How To Take Lecture Notes

How to take notes in lectures

We all think that we’re going to to remember what the professor or teacher said whilst in a lecture so don’t write it down. Cue panic 6 months later when what they said is part of an essay or exam!

in this post I cover some of the best ways for you to take notes during lectures to help you keep a great record of things, and remember them when it counts!

Paper-Based Note Taking

Grab yourself an ordinary writing pad (A4 or letter) and get writing. You don’t have to write down every word that your teacher is saying, just get the general gist of the sentence. Also, your handwriting doesn’t have to be neat at all because…

After the lecture, re-write all of your notes.

This may seem counter-intuitive to write things down twice but, believe me, you’ll thank me for it! Not only will your notes be tidier and written in a more organised manner, re-writing them will help you go through the ideas in your notes and understand them more.

These notes can then be orgainsed in a binder with highlighted text, and post-it note sub-notes in a very satisfying manner!

Learn Shorthand – or create your own

I came up with my own version of shorthand that I used during lectures that significantly sped up my note-taking. Sure, my notes were unreadable to other people but when I sat down and re-wrote them out I knew exactly what went on in that lecture and it doubly stuck in my head thanks to having to translate everything

Grab your technology

“Old Skool Typing”

I wouldn’t recommend to even attempt to takes notes on anything other than a decently sized laptop. An iPad or phone just won’t cut it with those tiny, tiny keyboards (and annoying auto-correct features!). If you’re a reasonably proficient typist then type your notes as you go – please make sure you don’t have a “clacky” keyboard though as that’s really annoying!

Can’t touch type? Then “Skype”

Well, not Skype literally but use your laptop’s in-built microphone to record the lecture – you’ll need to be near the front to get this to work decently though so best get there early!

If you’re fancy then you can buy an extended microphone, or even a radio one so you can record from a distance.

You can then listen to this and transcribe it at your leisure, or use a service to transcribe it for you. You can try VoiceBase which gives you 50 hours of free transcription – note that I’ve not personally tried it, nor am I affiliated with them so your mileage may vary. It’s worth checking the University noticeboards as there may be some adverts around campus with students willing to transcribe for you.

Not a Listener? Then Watch

Use your camera phone or webcam to record the lecture, you can then re-watch or transcribe as needed.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask

Most lecturers will have their notes available to you, if they’re not right up thereĀ on the University Intranet then just ask. Failing that, come up with a note-taking posse – get together with a group of friends and all take notes and then compare them. This is a great way to find stuff that you’ve missed and to socialise too. Win, Win!

Over To You

How to you take notes? I admit I’m old school as I find handwritten notes stick in my brain much more than typed ones but if you’re a typer what software do you use? Let us know in the comments

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