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Resources for in the Classroom

Note Taking

During lectures, it can be difficult to capture every word the professor or lecturer says, no matter how important the content might be. The best way to take notes during lectures is to jot down keywords, dates, names, and important phrases that are emphasized. After class, go back and fill in your notes. 

It is important to make sure your notes are easy to read and strategically organized. Focus on main points while in class for conceptual information. For factual information, transcribing the lecture can work. It’s important to write down the following: introductory/summary/overview remarks, signal words (“to sum up,” “a major reason why,” etc.), repeated words, emphasis from lecturer, final/summarizing remarks. There are benefits to handwriting notes as well as taking digital notes. There are 5 effective ways to take notes: Cornell notes, Outline, Flowchart/concept map, Charting method, and sentence method. 

  • Cornell notes:
    • Mark your paper with a 2 inch margin on the left. During class, jot down notes in the section on the right, skipping a few lines every time the lecturer transitions to a new point. After class, note the significant information and write a “cue” (key word or label) and write that in the left hand column column.
  • Outline Method:
    • Bullet points and indented dashes are used to organize information. General information begins at the left and specific facts are indented underneath. Relationships between points are carried out through indenting. 
  • Mapping Method:
    • Graphic representation of the content. Start with the main point and draw relationships from the center. It is best to write key words and main points and then to describe them on flashcards to review content. Best to use after lecture and in conjunction with another method. 
  • Charting Method:
    • Draw columns and label appropriate headings in a table format. This is best when you are being tested on facts and must organize your notes to keep track of the most important information. 
  • Sentence Method:
    • Write every new thought on a separate line and number as you progress. Go back after class and highlight the most important information. Harder to determine relationships between information. 

After class it is important to do the following:

  • Highlight emphasized points and compare with textbook notes/readings to emphasize the content that was covered in both lecture and the readings.
  • Note questions in your notes to ask fellow classmates, TA’s, TutorZone tutors, and/or professors during office hours.
  • Write a summary of notes and/or map out relationships. 
  • Create categories with content. This will help with planning out study sessions. 

Source: University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Source: Oxford Learning

Source: Learning Center University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Test Anxiety

A little anxiety before a test improves your concentration and alertness. With test anxiety, worry and self-doubt can interfere with your test-taking ability and make you feel miserable. Test anxiety is very common no matter how prepared you are, but there are ways to reduce the amount of test anxiety you experience. 

  • Start studying and reviewing the content early. The night before a test, review the material and get a good night’s sleep. Cramming only increases test anxiety. Make a schedule for what you are going to study and when as soon as you learn of a test coming up.
  • Don’t forget to eat and drink prior to the test. Your brain needs fuel. 
  • Take breaks before the test and get some exercise on the day of the test/exam. 
  • Get plenty of sleep prior to the test. 
  • Reach out to the counseling center if you believe you may need external support. They have resources and can support you in learning to manage your stress, test anxiety and otherwise. 
  • Mentally practice going through the testing experience. Close your eyes and see yourself walking confidently into the test, answering the questions correctly, and receiving the grade you want.
  • Walk into the test with your head up and your shoulder back. If you act confident, you just may find that you feel more confident. Tell yourself that you are ready and that you’re going to do fine.
  • Try these four relaxation techniques:
  1. Take a deep breath. Then slowly release your breath, along with any tension. Do this until you feel your body relax.
  2. Start at the top of your head, flex, and then relax each part of your body.
  3. Close your eyes and visualize warm sunshine washing over you, melting away the tension and relaxing all of your muscles.
  4.     Think of a place where you feel very relaxed and calm. Close your eyes and visualize being in that place.

The more you practice positive thinking and relaxation techniques, the better you’ll get at using them. If you continue to have problems with test anxiety, talk to your advisor or to a counselor. Libraries and bookstores also have materials that may be helpful.

Source: “How to Get Good Grades in College” by Linda O’Brien

Source: “Test Anxiety: Can it be treated?” Mayo Clinic