Study Notes for Students | Your Key to Effective Studying

Key Thoughts, Concepts and Ideas

Since you may remain a bit uncertain about what you are doing at this point, let's review the goals here. What you are searching for are the key concepts, thoughts and ideas that are contained in the chapter. You should have looked first at the table of contents of the text to see how detailed an outline they gave you about what would be covered in the chapter. This also tells you what main themes are considered important. Then you turn to the chapter you are about to launch into and look at the end of the chapter for a chapter summary. This will again give you the most important concepts covered in the chapter plus a minimum amount of detail supporting those concepts. Some texts will not provide you with a chapter summary.

Once you have reviewed the table of contents and the chapter summary you should go to the start of the chapter and leaf through the pages of the chapter noting if there is a chapter introduction. If there is an introduction, look for key words and concepts. You should be getting an idea by now of what you need to know and understand within this chapter. Now you are ready to start your search through the chapter for key words, taking strong clues from headings and sub-headings as they appear on the various pages. Pay special attention to words in bold print or italic print. Note also any charts or graphs which aid in definition, or compare and contrast different concepts. If there is a chart or graph about it, it is generally deemed to be important to understand. Any concepts or terms which are in the text and are then repeated in class, written on the board, or in some other way dwelt on should be considered important.

Now you are ready to proceed with taking meaningful notes on the identified key terms and concepts. Go ahead and complete them for the chapter or the portion of the chapter to which you have devoted this study period. You will want to come back later when you review your notes and clarify your notes on these issues so that later on you can expand your thought process as to how they relate to other concepts and what interaction is important to understand.

If you have any tentative feelings about whether or not you are capturing the important information, attending a course review or group tutorial will go a long way in helping you get a handle on this area so that you can proceed on with achieving understanding about the terms and concepts presented in the chapter.

Last Updated: 08/20/2013


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