The STAR note taking method is a simple and effective method to help students get the most out of lectures and prepare for tests. Taking effective notes during class is an important skill for college students to master because many college classes are presented in a lecture format. That means that the professor will talk about the course topics for the duration of each class. These professors will often base the majority of their test questions on information disseminated during class lectures.
S - Set Up Your Paper
It is important to dedicate an individual notebook for each college course and keep all of your notes together in date order. Each day’s notes should be set up in a similar format to make them easier to review later.
Start each lecture with a new sheet of paper. Write the date of the lecture in the upper right hand corner. Underneath the date, give your notes a title that summarizes the main point of the day’s lecture. This title may need to be chosen at the end of the lecture.
Draw a horizontal line down the left side of the paper. The right side of the paper will be for the class notes. The left side will used to label each section of notes.
T - Take Notes
Use the right side of the paper to write down important information from the class lecture. Separate the main points into sections.
Do not try to write down everything your professor says because it would take too long. Just write down the most important information. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what to write down. This is a skill students must master with practice.
There are some things to always write down:
- The main points of the lection
- Lists of information
- Definitions of new terms
- Significant persons related to the subject Anything the professor says students often mix up
- Information the professor repeats or emphasizes
When you are taking notes, you must write down information very quickly so that you do not miss new information. It helps to develop your own shorthand for common terms.
A - After Class
As soon as possible after class, look over the notes you took. Make any corrections necessary while the information is still fresh in your mind. If there was any information that you did not have a chance to write down during class, write it in your notes before you have forgotten it.
In the left side of the horizontal line you drew when you were setting up the paper, summarize the main point of the section of notes. This will make it easier to find information when reviewing your notes. It will also help you to retain the information by mentally placing the information into categories.
R - Review
To easily remember information from your lecture notes, you must review them periodically. It is helpful to review your notes weekly and again on the evening before the test.
The first time you review your notes use a highlighter or other method to make important information stand out. Mark the most important information with stars. This will make future reviews more focused. This will also help you retain the information because you now have a visual memory aid of the information.
Ask your professor about anything you wrote down but do not fully understand. Visit your professor during office hours to discuss any questions you have.