Better grades with improved notes

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To bump that B to an A, students should consider improving their note-taking skills.

Cynthia M. Herrera

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Note-taking can always be improved, Geology Professor Anne Dietz said during a workshop Sept. 23 in Chance Academic Center.

“If you’re not paying attention in class, you’re wasting your money and your time; you’re coming to class to learn.” Dietz said.

Dietz said perseverance and studying should be top priorities for students. After all, your grades follow you through life.

Students should learn to use abbreviations to speed up note-taking in class. They should also focus on key points instead of minor details.

Students should make outlines of course textbooks and bring them to class so they’re prepared.

“It’s like your road map to the chapter.” Dietz said.

Sitting in the front of class, not slouching and, most important, attending class with a positive attitude are suggested.

If students believe they will learn, they can learn, Dietz said.

Dietz said most professors signal when something is important by repeating it frequently and speaking louder and more slowly.

Students should listen for hinted key phrases such as “This is important” and “In conclusion” and then write down what follows.

Dietz also suggested students know what note-taking techniques work best for them, such as Cornell Notes and the Block Method.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, Dietz said. It shows professors how to explain the material in a different way.

Dietz said taking notes on a laptop is fine; however, she suggests that students learn better by writing. Students tend to focus on typing and lose focus on the lecture; they need to be actively listening.

Biology and chemistry sophomore student Linda Torres said she would “take notes in pencil, and go back and rewrite them in pen and color-code it.” Torres said she learned how to take notes over time and was “fortunate that through grade school, they all instructed us to (take notes).”

Dietz encourages students to get organized and suggests keeping handouts in a binder and having tabs on notes for references.

Some note-taking techniques may work better in some classes than others, Dietz said. Students should not get discouraged, but adjust their skills.

Studying takes time and practice, so students must set aside time to study and review notes directly after class.

Many students can cram notes right before an exam but don’t remember the material later, Dietz said.

“You’re here to learn the material, not memorize,” she said, especially if it’s material in someone’s major.

Study groups can help, but “make sure that it is indeed a study group,” Dietz said. If members aren’t serious, the group can create distractions like discussing weekend events rather than reviewing.

There are tutors in many departments across campus that can help as well.

“Take advantage,” Dietz said. “They don’t cost anything.”

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