learningAs you progress from high school to college and into graduate school, you`ll find that your lectures can get much more complex. Sometimes it`s not easy taking notes that make sense the next day. There are a few tricks for taking sensible lecture notes.

Date your notes.

In a perfect world, lecture notes from a single class are kept in a single, dedicated notebook in the correct sequence. But this is the real world! There will be times when you go to biology class (for instance) and realize that you’ve brought the history notebook by accident. This is how you end up with the Battle of Bunker Hill wedged between mitosis and meiosis.

Establish the habit of putting the date at the beginning of each day’s notes and marking the end of a day’s notes. Also—if you ever have to take history notes in your biology notebook—be sure to start on a clean sheet of paper, mark the date, and tear it out. Then place the loose sheet in the correct notebook pocket. No pockets? Staple it in.

Ask for a lecture theme – get an idea of the big picture.

Professors and teachers usually lecture from an outline they’ve prepared ahead of time. They often try to complete one topic, theme, or cycle in an individual lecture—although there will be some overlap some days. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher for the topic of the day or the theme of the day’s lecture.

Sometimes, teachers will get on a roll and/or get ahead of themselves and move from one theme to another without letting you know. If you notice that the professor seems to be talking about something you’ve never heard of before, the teacher might be transitioning from one topic to another. If you suspect that’s happening, just ask: “Are we changing topics?”

If you listen carefully, you can usually pattern your own notes according to the teacher’s own outline. Especially if you listen for transition words.