Advanced Placement Reading Notes

Advanced Placement Reading Notes
Reading should been seen as an ‘active’ exercise, in other words you engage with your reading
to maximize your learning. One of the most effective ways of actively engaging with your reading is to
take notes as you go along – linking points, pulling out key pieces of information etc. By writing notes, in
your own words, you will be forced to think about the ideas that are presented in the text and how you
can explain them coherently. The process of note-taking will, help you retain, analyse and ultimately
remember and learn what you have read.
It is important to understand that effective note-taking means writing notes on what you have
read in your own words. Copying what others have said is not note-taking and is only appropriate when
you want to directly quote an author. It can be tempting, but if you do this then you are unlikely to
learn what you have read, as copying is not engaging with the text.
When you first start out note-taking you may find that you take too many notes, or not enough,
or that when you revisit them they are unclear. Like all life skills, taking effective notes improves with
practice. You'll know how good your notes are when you try to use them! Here are some suggestions to
make your notes easier to read, easier to understand and easier to find when you need them.
Tips for Taking Effective Notes
It is important to keep your notes organized and well-structured, so you can easily find them
later. Use a spiral notebook or composition book to keep your notes organized.
Use different headings, symbols, or tabs to separate different themes and ideas.
Use bright colors to highlight important points in your notes. You may find it useful to have a simple
system of color-coding, using different colors for related areas.
Write the Chapter number and page numbers in the margin of your notebook and write down, in
concise phrases, the points that strike you as relevant from each paragraph.
Keep them well-spaced so you can see individual points and add more details during
Show the relationships between the main points (link with a line along which you write how they
relate to each other, highlight, etc.)
Use your own words to summarize - imagine someone has asked you "so what did x say about this?"
and write down your reply.
Illustrations, examples and diagrams can help to put ideas in a practical context.
Read through to make sure they're clear - will you still understand them when you review them?
Active note-taking means:
o Scanning the chapter outline, headings, graphics, etc. before you start reading
o Writing down any questions you may have about the topic
o looking for connections within the topic you're studying, and to other topics in your course
o writing notes mostly in your own words - your own explanation of what something says or
o At the end of each chapter or section, briefly summarize the material.
o Making a list of vocabulary words on a separate page or create flashcards.
Here are some suggestions for making outline notes more useful:
Use loads of HEADINGS for main ideas and concepts
Use subheadings for points within those ideas
Stick to one point per line
Underline key words
You can use numbers, letters, symbols to keep yourself organized
Use abbreviations - and don't worry about using full sentences
Leave plenty of SPACE - for adding detail and for easy reading