How To: Take good notes in class

Take good notes in class

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. Learn how to take good notes in class with this Howcast guide.

You Will Need
* A notebook
* A pen or pencil
* Attentiveness

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.

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