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Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to write down during a lecture. Here are a few tips to help you listen for main ideas.

Write it down when the professor:

  • Says it’s important or repeats the information.
  • Writes information on the board or the projector.
  • Breaks down the material into steps (any information important enough to explain thoroughly is important enough to record in your notes).
  • Gives contrasts or pros and cons.
  • Changes vocal tone or volume–this often indicates excitement; information that a professor is excited about often ends up on tests.

Signal words and phrases may also indicate a professor is saying something you should remember. Some signal words and phrases are: