Some paragraphs may be in there to add understanding and just seem to be unnecessary "fill" to someone who understood the principle being discussed the first time it was presented. When you find paragraphs like this, you don't need to stop and enter something on your note pad. Just go on until you find the next thought or idea that introduces something new or additional. After you have done this for a few days, you will find that you are able to look at a sentence and a paragraph and hit a few words with a highlighter and go on to the next paragraph. Then when you get to the end of the page you can let your eyes scan the highlighted words on the page and decide what you want to enter as your notes from that page. This is an excellent system to use if you have decided to outline a chapter or more of your text.
This method of reading and note taking will work for most any kind of text, whether it is Psychology, Biology, Marketing or Art Appreciation, where you are expected to read and understand principles or historic events or differences in styles or philosophies. You can become proficient at this method and save enormous chunks of reading time. Remember to be aware as you scan the paragraphs that you are looking for answers to questions. You should always be on the lookout for the "what, why, how, when, who and where" answers that will be in your readings. Be conscious of questions the author has presented and anticipate that he will proceed to answer the question. Look for these answers. Be particularly mindful of any words or sentences highlighted with bold print.
To review, you are skimming paragraphs looking for the author's main idea contained in that paragraph. Every paragraph has one. Once you have that main idea, look for any supporting details. There may only be one. There may be more. But that's all you need: The main idea and one or more supporting details. That's what goes in your notes or on your chapter outline.
When you come to an exercise in a course that requires memorization of a table or a theorem or a set of dates there are other methods which will be discussed which may be more appropriate and more effective.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013