A good note-taking strategy will aid students in the MD Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Notes, notes, everywhere. Students tend to want one nice neat summary to go back to when studying before a test. That's a good idea if you aren't spending too much time writing and rewriting between each step of your learning sequence.

In order to obtain information, it is important to focus on the task at hand as it relates to objectives. If looking at a text book, focus on what you're reading. If in a lecture, focus on listening to what is being said.

Set up your notes so you can add to them, rather than rewrite them. Divide your page into sections that match your learning sequence. Number and date all pages. You might want to label them with the chapter or lecturer's name. Start in the left margin with keywords, vocabulary and questions you gather from scanning material before a lecture. This information gives you some ideas to listen for during lecture.

Use the main part of the page to write notes during lecture as they correspond to your list of key ideas and objectives. Take notes on things that are new to you and possibly unsure about (not things you already know). Leave space in between ideas so you can add information later from the readings. Add ideas to your notes as you read to clarify information. Summarize the objective at the end, using your own words, in a paragraph or two.

 

Pre-reading/scanning

Keywords

Vocabulary

Questions

 

Lecture and reading

Main notes

Many instructors provide PowerPoint handouts to go along with lectures. This can allow you to listen more and write less. You can also three-hole punch the handouts and add them to a binder containing each module. Either way, make sure you write legibly. It may help you to paraphrase information and use abbreviations, as long as you can read and understand the notes later, when you need to study them.