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Note Taking, Test Preparation. Quiz. Let’s start with a 9-minute test Based on Grade 10 math concepts. Taking Notes from Texts and Lectures. A. Lectures and Note-Taking B. General Principles C. Note-Taking Systems D. New Technology. Purpose of Lectures.

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Note taking test preparation

Note Taking, Test Preparation

Note taking test preparation

  • Let’s start with a 9-minute test

  • Based on Grade 10 math concepts

Taking notes from texts and lectures

Taking Notes from Texts and Lectures

A. Lectures and Note-Taking

B. General Principles

C. Note-Taking Systems

D. New Technology

Purpose of lectures
Purpose of Lectures

  • immediate event: lectures progress in real time and demand mental and physical participation.

  • stimulate FOCUS

Goals of note taking
Goals of Note-Taking

  • capture the essence of your lecture while you simultaneously listen, study, or observe

  • note taking serves two functions: learning and external storage (DiVesta & Gray, 1972)

  • Learning is the most important

How notes work
How Notes Work

  • require abbreviations, short-cuts, paraphrases, reformatting

  • creative, effortful acts

  • effort = memorability

  • effort develops from speed difference between speech and writing

Note taking speed
Note Taking & Speed

  • effort=memorability

  • effort created by difference between speech and writing

  • Writing speed: 0.2 to 0.3 WPS

  • Speaking speed: 2 to 3 WPS



3 words per second


0.3 words per second

Unequal speeds create challenge

Note taking effort
Note Taking Effort

  • effort of note taking GREATER than that of reading, studying

  • Greater even than CHESS!

But bad notes are bad
BUT—Bad Notes Are Bad

  • Many students are poor note takers

  • typically record less than half of the key ideas presented

Printed notes
Printed Notes?

  • pre-printed course packs ensure crucial material is accurate and complete

  • allow the student to concentrate on the lecture (reducing multi-tasking) BUT

  • reduce the student's role in note production—Problem?

Ideal lecture notes
Ideal Lecture Notes

  • ideally, work with prepared course note packages

  • annotate, highlight, and mark them vigorously

Good point!

Note taking principles
Note-Taking Principles

1.Get used to incompleteness

  • do NOT copy every word: as completeness RISES, comprehension FALLS

  • Even worse with a keyboard!

Note taking principles1
Note-Taking Principles

2. Classify the information.

  • Listen for “metamessages” as well as content

  • Listen to examples; record key concepts

Focus on metamessages
Focus on Metamessages

  • Crucial hints, e.g., “the details of this process are not important at this point”

Focus on metamessages1
Focus on Metamessages

  • Crucial hint: “I don’t expect you to memorize them all”


  • “you should recognize some properties of major groups”

Note taking principles2
Note-Taking Principles

3. Organize the information.

  • consider adopting a consistent, formal note-taking plan

  • may improve clarity or save time

  • works with PPT slides or bare paper . . .

Note taking test preparation

  • Print slides in “notes pages” format

  • Provides space to add your own notes

  • Remember: The purpose of note-taking is LEARNING

Note taking test preparation


  • Review readings & slides before lecture

  • Print slides and leave space to annotate them

  • Focus on metamessages

  • Use slides/notes as tests and test yourself

If you know everything already
If You Know Everything Already . . .

  • Extend your knowledge: Develop questions

  • Test yourself: in REVIEW, everything looks familiar (“passive review” WEAK!)

  • Tests provide retrieval practice & knowledge of performance

  • Remember: you will not only have to know the material but retrieve it quickly and accurately

No printouts
No Printouts?

  • Printouts are not always available

  • Printing requires time & money

  • What is the best way to take notes if printouts are not an option?

  • 3 Principles, 3 Formats

Three note taking formats
Three Note-Taking Formats

1. outline system

2. Graphic approaches

3. Cornell system

1 outline system
1. Outline System

  • Illustrates the relative value of major points and supporting ideas

    • highly structured

    • effort of forming a coherent outline makes the material memorable

  • Organized appearance also makes the notes comprehensible

  • Drawbacks of outline format:

    • too slow for many situations

    • only useful for lectures with clear structure

2 branching mind mapping
2. Branching &Mind Mapping:

  • informal, strongly visual ways of expressing relationships between ideas

  • start in the middle of the page with a key idea; draw a radiating line for each subtopic

  • indicate connections between ideas with branching lines

What is a mindmap
What is a Mindmap?

  • A mindmap is a way of organizing ideas in a highly pictorial way

Why mindmap
Why mindmap?

  • Make new connections between ideas

  • Fast and easy to create

  • Memorable (for some)

  • Fun!

3 cornell system
3. Cornell System:

Simple system that

  • Leaves adequate room for later re-organization

  • Creates an automatic quiz system

Cornell system
Cornell System


Cornell U

Test preparation format

Walter S. Pauk

  • Most major US law schools


  • When?

  • Where?

  • Why?

  • By?

  • Now Used?

3 part system
3-Part System

Phase 1: Before the Lecture

  • Review previous notes

  • Prepare paper for current notes (date, course, name, page numbers)

3 part system1
3-Part System

Phase 2: During the Lecture

  • record notes on the right-hand side of the page

  • capture main points writing quickly

  • you may NOT have time to re-write

  • only re-write notes if this is a crucial study activity for you!

  • notes should convey the necessary information the first time you write them.

3 part system2
3-Part System

Phase 3: After the Lecture

  • jot down key words and phrases on the left side of the paper

  • helps organize material

  • TEST: cover the right side of the notebook

  • use key words and phrases as test questions


  • Note that you can combine approaches—e.g., graphical approach plus Cornell

Note taking test preparation

Branching/Cornell Approach

One/several batches—1000s!

-how ticks find cattle?

-responses: warm/cold?

-why does blood continue to flow in host?

-host questing risky—adaptations?

Releases apyrase (anti-coag.) & kininase (no itch)

smells butyric acid in mammalian sweat

“seed tick”

Testing as study
Testing as Study

  • Every diagram is the basis for a test (reproduce sketch diagrams to self-test)

  • highest learning gains from testing; best form of study!

  • Testing may actually replace notes—soon


  • Tests enhance learning and improve long-term retention, a phenomenon known as the “testing effect” (Agarwal et al., 2007)

  • In a 2006 experiment, subjects predicted they would recall more in the future after repeated studying than after testing

Know thyself
Know Thyself

  • They were wrong

  • testing enhanced long-term retention better than restudying

  • monitor and regulate your own learning—you may surprise yourself

Notes and textbooks
Notes and Textbooks

  • Highlighting no substitute for study

  • Notes/Testing more memorable

  • Excellent chapter-end summaries and questions—use them!


  • Start with the questions—then look for the answers

  • Use end of chapter summaries as “advance organizers”

  • Take notes & test as well as read—passive review is a weak learning strategy

Last word new technology
Last Word: New Technology

  • Technology claims are usually overstated (e.g., TABLETS!)

  • Some new devices look promising

  • Some do not

York mcmaster study
York-McMaster Study

  • “multitasking on a laptop poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content.” (2013)

Smart pens
“Smart” Pens?

  • Livescribe—not that I’m endorsing their product

  • Traditional pen with digital enhancement

  • Records audio, coordinates with digitized text

New technology
New Technology

  • Systems are maturing—and some may really be better

  • We are on the verge of HUGE changes

  • Most of the old principles will still apply!

Top tips
Top Tips

  • Apply Distribution

  • Use Self-Testing

  • Anticipate Test Form

Tip of the day
Tip of the Day

  • Avoid changing answers on multiple-choice tests?

  • Virtually all research on this topic for 70 YEARS suggests the opposite

  • Most answer changes are from incorrect to correct,

  • Why do people believe in this strategy if the data so strongly refute it?

  • “counterfactual thinking” created because changing an answer and making it incorrect leads to more self-recrimination

  • Thus, instances of the former are more memorable than instances of the latter (Kruger, Wirtz, & Miller, 2005)

1 apply distribution
1. Apply Distribution

  • prepare throughout the term.

  • concentrated review: final week

  • material learned most thoroughly and efficiently by reviewing at regular intervals over time

  • Final days: integration, synthesizing, summarizing, and reinforcing material

  • if work is overwhelming, schedule what you can and gradually work in the rest.

2 use self testing
2. Use Self-Testing

  • “there are no strategies that work all of the time, for all students, in all classes” (Gurung, Weidert, & Jeske, 2010, p. 32)

  • “metacognitive strategies such as self-testing” are effective (Gurung et al., p. 32).

3 anticipate test form
3. Anticipate Test Form

  • Ways in which a test “goes beyond the learned curriculum”

  • Concepts not covered explicitlyin course

  • Question types not used in class

  • Known concepts tested in unfamiliar ways (Rubinstein, 2003)

Question 1
Question 1

  • If x = 0, then both columns = 0

  • If x is any positive integer, B > A

  • If x is any negative integer, B > A

  • If x is a fraction, A > B

  • Answer: 4 (cannot be determined)

Question 2
Question 2

  • Equation 1 = Equation 2 – 1

  • 3x + y = x + 2y – 1 (because 16 – 1 = 15)

  • Subtract one from the other:

  • 3x – x + y - 2y = -1

  • 2x – y = -1

  • -1 < 0 therefore Column B is greater

  • Answer: 2

Question 3 11 edges
Question 3: 11 Edges

  • Answer: 5 (I, II, and III)

Question 4
Question 4

  • 5:05 – 6:06 (61 minutes)

  • 12:12 – 1:01 (49 minutes)

  • Answer: 3


  • Have you ever seen questions quite like these before?

  • Was the format off-putting?

  • Did you recognize that the mathematical concepts were fairly elementary (i.e., Grade 10)?

Final note
Final Note:

  • Testing & feedback

  • Delayed feedback (c. 20 min.) works best