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Writing Notes

Making notes on your reading helps discipline your thinking. Do not copy out large chunks unselectively. The purpose of notes is to provide a short and clear summary of the argument. Investing time in making this clear as you read will save time later on. Different people have all kinds of tricks for taking notes. What matters is what works best for you, which you can only discover by trying to write notes in a structured way.

An especially important set of notes is your notes of lectures and classes. A useful strategy is to rewrite your lecture notes regularly (preferably soon after the lecture when it is still fresh in your mind) so you have clear useful notes when it is time to revise for exams. This helps you keep up with material as your course goes along. Please note that lecture handouts, such as PowerPoint slides, only provide an outline of the material covered in a lecture. You will need to supplement this with detailed notes.

In order to develop a capacity for independent thinking, you will have to do a lot of work on your own. If a question occurs to you in a lecture or while reading, make a note of it, so that you can think about it and follow it up later. Although your lecturers may be glad to discuss such questions with you, it will probably be more useful to you if you first try to find the answer for yourself.