What does it take to be able to take good notes in your university classes and earn high marks when examination day comes? Does jotting down every other word your instructor utters make any sense?

Notwithstanding a sharp memory and a great comprehension about the subject matter being discussed in class, an organized system of note taking is an essential matter that will serve you well way after you leave university. Taking good notes is like having a back-up armory during study time, or even during subsequent courses when the same subject matter is lined up for discussion. Moreover, given the various subjects you will have to absorb in a given school year, the average mind can only manage to remember so many. Certain points may seem crystal clear during the class lecture, but without good notes you can rely on, you stand to forget about 80 to 90 percent of what you heard.

Your notes, especially if they are comprehensible, will come in very handy because they can help you focus on certain concepts and recall important parts of the lesson, heighten your understanding about the subject matter, and allow you to review and cast attention on items that require clarification.

As such, it is very important to master the art of efficient note taking. It is advisable to review the class notes you jotted down a few minutes before the class ends or just before the next class with the instructor. If the instructor is the type who makes a quick recap of lessons discussed during the previous class, then that will be the best time to clarify points which are not clear to you.

Key to good note taking is to listen well. Instead of attempting to write down everything, and ending up with unimportant phrases and details, try to absorb the gist of what your instructor is trying to convey. Create a mental picture of how the numerous details which the teacher is expressing is tied up to the main point or overall picture. Unfamiliar with some words the instructor is uttering? Write them down and look them up later during your free time. Jot down the date of each lecture and use dividers or separate pages for every major topic or new lesson. You may also use Post-It notes or flags that may be handy when review time comes.

Try to find a seat near the instructor so that there will be less distractions and you’ll be able to hear each and every important part of the lesson. Write down salient points, including short outlines or outline presentations summarizing key points. Learn to listen to cues and transitional words (like “therefore”) that signal important parts of the lesson. Learn to read no-verbal cues as well which the instructor may be sending, but focus on the lesson, not on other things of which the instructor may be reminding you.

Another important reminder in effective note taking is to abbreviate long words & use symbols & short phrases, but write in a legible manner so that you don’t defeat the main purpose of those notes. Try to write as fast as you can, but skip the unimportant words like articles and prepositions. Finally, you may compare notes with a fellow student just in case there were still some important points you missed.