Taking notes from lectures

You're sitting in the lecture. Your lecturer is talking monotonously, and you are about to fall asleep. Scenes like this take place every day in classrooms.

Fortunately, modern techniques can help in many cases.

At many universities, the lectures are now recorded as podcasts. So you can listen to the event in the warm and cozy living room instead of in the crowded lecture hall. In order to save time, it is best to double speed.

The PowerPoint presentation offers many students a good reference point in the seemingly endless debauchery of their lecturers. It offers a structure that can be optimally used for orientation.

As a third possibility, a wide range of software on the internet makes it possible to automatically convert speech to text. This is a good alternative to writing notes by hand or typing on the keyboard and offers the possibility of transcribing lectures word-by-word. In this way, the student ensures that no information is lost.

As a student, you are naturally interested in your subject, but nobody would deny that at the end of the day it is most important to pass the exams.

In order to take good notes, it is necessary to develop a feeling for which questions the exam might contain. There are several ways to find out:

  • Ask other students if they still have old exams or can remember exam questions from old exams.
  • Search the internet for appropriate exams.
  • Use the module documentation to think of your own exam questions.

The aim of your notes should be to map as accurate and comprehensive a catalog of questions as possible that could also be asked in your exam. Accordingly, you should present your notes in a question-and-answer format right from the start.

Whether you write your notes by hand, type on the keyboard, or use a transcription program, the steps always remain the same:

  1. Using what has been said (for example, in the lecture) or what has been written (in the textbook, on old exams, on the lecturer's PowerPoint), formulate a question that you think could also be asked during the exam.
  2. Write down an answer under the question, which you can also take from what has been said or written in your module. Then you formulate the next question and so on.

To write down the questions more quickly, it can also help to just use keywords instead of whole sentences. Be sure to answer the answers in your own simple questions. Give your questionnaire a structure by adding titles, subtitles, and numbered lists.

If you follow this format, the process of repeating will be much easier for you later.

We want to use what we have learned in an exam. Conversely, learning means that we practice calling up what we have learned.

To do this, you have to:

  1. Cover the questions you wrote down. It works differently depending on whether you took digital or physical notes. For physical notes, simply cover them with a sheet of paper. In the case of digital, for example, the Notion program offers the function called Toggle, with which you can hide the entire part under a question.
  2. Then you try to answer the question in your head. Only after you have done that are you allowed to uncover the answer and compare it to the answer that you have given yourself in your head.