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Shabby (but Effective) Shorthand Methods

Great minds find ways to shortcut tedious tasks that must be done quickly. One of the potential frustrations facing students is how to keep up with notes during a lecture. Assuming that you are tuned in to the concept that not every word the instructor says is worthy of ending up in your notes, nonetheless an instructor who moves through material rapidly can present challenges to the conscientious note-taker. Here are some bona fide gold nuggets to help in this regard:

  1. You don't need vowels: Read the following phrase and be convinced. Lrng cn be fn...(Learning can be fun)...or ....Dn't nd vwls for gd ntes...(Don't need vowels for good notes)....You can stick a vowel in occasionally if you think you might mistake the meaning, but you can do just fine without most of them.
  2. Abbreviate obvious words when you can. For instance, Cong is mde up of Sen and Rep..( Congress is made up of Senators and Representatives.) You don't even need to worry about the periods.
  3. Symbols are helpful. Here's a bunch:
    w/ = with w/o = without wh/ = which
    = more than < = less than + = and or also
    Cf = compared to ff = following = = equals, same as
    Arrow up = increasing arrow down = decreasing esp = especially
    Triangle = change b/c = because  

Start out using a few of these and work them into your notes. Then you can add a few more to your repertoire. The last thing you need is to be sitting in class looking at a chart of symbols to remind you of the symbol for "because". The idea is that these need to come quickly and naturally to use. So use them only as you commit them to memory. Can you add some of your own? Sure. As long as you don't add so many that you can't remember what they mean. Your notes must end up in a condition that you can read and review them later for final transcription and come up with the accurate information.

You may want to include things like using a big question mark beside those notes you don't understand fully or know that you need to expand on. You may want to put your first initial or some other symbol by those notes which are your own thoughts or opinions so that you know they didn't come from the instructor. You also may want to put a big EX beside those items which you are relatively certain will appear on an exam.


Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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