Tag Archives: College writing tips

How to Take College Lecture Notes that are Actually Coherent Later

Taking good class notes during a lecture is incredibly important if you’re going to make it in college. While it can help to have a voice-recorder handy for note-taking, it’s still important to have visible college lecture notes in front of your face when it comes to studying for the eventual exam. But if your notes look like scribble-scrabble, then you might as well beg some legible lecture notes off your college classmate…which is a bit too high school, don’t you think? Here is some advice for taking clear, efficient lecture notes you’ll actually be able to use later for finals.

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Gather your supplies

No war was ever won without the right ammunition, and the same rules apply for the university battleground. To succeed in college, you have to come to class armed with sharp pencils, sturdy notebooks, and other essential school supplies.

You may need:

  • Binders
  • College-ruled paper (not wide-ruled)
  • Ink pens- more than one!
  • Highlighter markers
  • Pencils
  • Laptop with PowerPoint
  • iPad with note-taking apps like iA Writer, Pear Note, or Omni Outliner

Top 20 Must-Have College School Supplies- Where to Buy

If your professor uses PowerPoint notes, then you may be able to download them before his lecture. Check online before class for lecture outlines.

Laptop or paper?

Don’t rule out taking old-fashioned paper and pen notes just because you got a brand-new expensive laptop. Some college students find they need a laptop for certain classes, and the old stand-by college notebook for lectures. Try using a laptop for lecture notes one day, and switching to paper notes the next, and see which results in better, clearer lecture note-taking.

Also, some college professors don’t permit laptops in their classroom, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to leave your laptop computer at your dorm.

Listen!

Part of taking good lecture notes is listening attentively to your teacher’s lecture style. Most teachers have a style of speaking; they drops clues when they get to points which will be on the exam or when they’re about to stray completely off the topic.

  • Listen for cues like, “Moving on…” or “Next, we’ll discuss…”
  • When your professor pauses during a lecture, he’s not catching his breath- he’s warning you to get your notepad ready!
  • And if he gets repetitive, it’s not because he’s forgetful; it means this is a really important point and you’d better be taking good notes!
  • Likewise, if your professor raises her voice during a lecture, it’s not because she’s hard of hearing- it’s your cue to write this down!

Have a good note-taking system

Hands down, the Cornell method note-taking system is one of the best; it involves dividing your note paper into three sections: Cues, notes, and summary.

Notes column

The “notes” column is on the right-hand side. Use short abbreviated sentences to “transcribe” the lecture in short-hand.

Cues column

Your “cues” column should be on the left-hand side of your notes. Use this section after class to record questions or clues which will later help you remember key ideas presented during the lecture.

Summary

Leave a section at the bottom of your college lecture notes for a short summary of the main points you picked up during your college lecture.

To get you started, here’s a Cornell Lecture Notes PDF Generator

 

Your turn!

Will you use our advice for college lecture notes? Do you have any good study habits to share?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

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Like this? Read more:

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14 Tips for Writing a College Level Essay

Learning how to write a great college-level essay can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially for a freshman just starting out in a new university. Since you’re going to be spending the bulk of the next four years writing essays, you might as well get used it. With practice, good writing skills become second nature. Whether you’re a student working on a school thesis or preparing for a college level exam, these writing tips will help you score an “A!”

14 Tips for Writing a College Level Essay

Write an awesome paper!

College Writing Tips

These 14 important tips for writing a great college paper will get you on the right track.

  1. Don’t procrastinate! You’re not in high school anymore. Resist the temptation to wait until Sunday night to start working on a paper that’s due Monday afternoon. Let’s face it- there’s no way you’re turning in your best work. And your best is what it takes to get a good college education.
  2. Research your material. Do the work. Research your topic on the internet or at your university library. Collect information the way you used to collect Pokémon cards. Your professor isn’t stupid! He can tell the difference between a college thesis that’s been researched and analyzed thoroughly and one that’s been copied and pasted from Wikipedia.
  3. Argue with yourself. Really. Talking to yourself while writing is a great way to produce natural work and will also open doors to fresh insights related to your essay. Challenge yourself; ask yourself questions, then think about clever conclusions.
  4. Stick to one topic. Don’t try to cover the entire Turkish Empire in one essay. Rather, focus on one specific point about that time period, and make it the center of your thesis.
  5. Draft an outline. Before you get writing, make a rough outline organizing your main thoughts and arguments into separate points.
  6. Skip introductions. You still need a great opening paragraph, but don’t get hung up about making that the first step in writing your paper. Jump in anywhere you’re comfortable, and write to your heart’s content. The opener can wait.
  7. Use paragraphs to your advantage. In writing a good college-level paper, it’s important to know how to feed information in small bites, to make the whole essay more digestible. Know when to end one paragraph and start a new one. Paragraphs keep your essay moving without breaking the flow of the train of thought.
  8. Write. Erase. Repeat. Even the most accomplished writers make mistakes- they just don’t publish them! Get used to forming and reforming sentences, correcting mistakes, and then having second thoughts…
  9. Keep it natural…Forget everything your high school English teacher taught you in class. Writing should be an extension of your natural voice. Don’t try to put together cleverly-concocted yet grammatically correct prose. Just write it the way you would say it.
  10. And keep it fresh! College university professors have to read hundreds of papers each year. Want to get his attention? Give him something interesting to read, something unexpected. Avoid the tried-and-true safe thesis topics, such as “Why recycling can save the world,” and come up with a unique idea that’s all your own.
  11. Quote sources. Never ever plagiarize, and always reference an idea that’s not your own. Pick a system of footnoting, and stick to it.
  12. Cite lectures. Mention other college professors in your paper, and you’re bound to get a better grade.
  13. Put it all together now.  A conclusion isn’t a summary of what you just wrote. Rather, a true college-level essay finishes with a paragraph that expertly ties all the loose ends together into one neat little package.
  14. Proofread! This is one of the most important yet overlooked steps in writing your college paper, and the reason why you should never to attempt to complete a whole college essay the day before it’s due. Put your work aside, and return to it several hours later. You’ll get a fresh perspective of your work, and any corrections that require editing will jump right out at you.

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:                                                                           

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