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What's your strategy for note taking?

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What's your strategy for note taking?  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jul 2015, 18:14
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Much of the advice provided by others seems to be to write main points, summaries, etc. in shorthand. However, even extreme shorthand seems to take up a lot of time. I find that I waste more time taking notes so I write as little as possible. Thus, I find that general RC advice by GMAT prep companies, with all do respect, is relatively the worst one they give because RC has the greatest # of potential minutes that you can lose.

I simply write down P1, P2, P3, etc. for each paragraph. Within each paragraph, I only write down key names, dates, etc. in bullet points. Then, I write down whether the paragraph generally describes facts, criticizes, # reasons given, etc. If there is a counterargument within the paragraph, I write "BUT:...". Anything with a simple action represents what the author is doing. For example:

P1: Klein
BUT: Stevens
Describes facts

P2: Defends Stevens
3 reasons


Coupled with the above, I let my engagement in reading the content take over to fill in the details. I do just as well as without taking a relatively more elaborate albeit shorthand notes. In fact, I rarely if ever look at my notes. The net result is minutes saved. So, the key for me is to do what you have to do, to stay focused when normally you're unable to for whatever reason. If you hate reading, find out what you like about it. If it's boring content, then all the more reason to go through it faster. If you lack energy, eat and drink plenty of water (maybe some coffee if that helps). Whatever helps you to focus, however serious, go find the remedy, as engaging in the reading and being able to focus is the key to RC success.

Though, this is just what works for me. Maybe you have a better strategy?

What do you do?
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What's your strategy for note taking?  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jul 2015, 22:36
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Great to see that you're asking other people what they do, because (in my opinion) there is no one strategy that works for everyone. What I do is:

1. Start with the length of the passage. If it's a long passage, I get ready to write. If it's a short or medium passage, I normally don't bother with notes.

2. Look for passages that involve processes. I find that notes help me stay on track when there are lots of different, interconnected ideas involved.

3. Use normal words. I'm fine with symbols (✗ or →) and using letters (A instead of auxin, E instead of ethylene), but I write most individual words as I normally would (though, not tho).

4. Skip very specific details entirely. Notes help me understand the passage, but I always go back to the passage itself (not my notes) to solve questions.

I think your P1, P2, P3... idea is great. Additionally, you might want to consider looking at this as a way of saving time (with notes, it takes less time to achieve a particular level of accuracy). For me it's more about just going through with it and being okay with making less than perfect notes.
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Re: What's your strategy for note taking?   [#permalink] 17 Jul 2017, 16:40
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