Tips on taking notes faster and more efficiently. I am too slow; I am a very hardworker. I don't know when to give up. Ever since i got into school, I would stay awake working hard, to finish up a project or studying for a test. Ex: In grade 1/2, on the night before exam, I forgot everything on it and started momorizing again. I have hard time understanding stuff, slow learner. But when I do understand, I thrive in class. In my entire life, I have seen people do much better work than me; even though I put in a lot more time than them. Its heart breaking to see a paper, that you waisted an entire day and night on to finish that got a below average mark, compared to another paper which got almost perfect, that was completed in a very short time. I really put in a lot of time in to my homework. I try to eliminate all distractions. I've a bad counsellor, who tries to kill my motivation. I feel that I can only become one thing and nothing else. I don't know how I got that feeling for the occupation, but its so strong that it makes me feel terrible if I don't achieve it. I have asked teachers for help, those who I trust. One said, they had the same problem, so they dropped out for few years. That's not an option. My parents don't support me, & won't let me, & I don't want to. The other teacher told me, I might have a learning disability. I can't go to write the test, my family & friends are pressurizing me not to. When I think, related things pop in mind, & I could make a strong point, but I can't find right word.

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You need to develop your own shorthard.  Don't write everything down.  Watch the instructor's body language and tone of voice for what's important.  Another great idea is to record your lectures.  Listen to them while you review your notes.  Sometimes you can also add to your notes then.

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You should try to not become frustrated because that makes things much worse.

As far as note taking goes, maybe you should think about purchasing a recorder that you can use in class. This way you can record the lessons and then listen to the lesson, or parts of it, later. If you missed anything while taking notes, you can go back and find what you missed.

If your counselor isn't helping you then you should find someone in your school who will. You may have some sort of disability that is hindering you.

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Can you go back to the teacher that told you that you might have a learning disability and ask him/her to help you explore that possibility? If you do have a disability, it would be nice if you could get some help for that specific condition. You might also ask around at school and see if any teachers are trained in using something called "Brain Gym." You can look it up on-line and read a little about it. I know that it's known to really help kids with learning issues. One of the basic exercises called PACE is even explained on YouTube. If you look for "pace brain gym" you can find instructions on how to do it yourself. It's a brain exercise that helps you prepare for new learning.

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I think it would be a good idea for you to get testing for learning disabilities. What you describe definitely sounds like a processing issue. It doesn't mean you aren't intelligent--it just means that you process information in ways that make traditional learning difficult for you. Your college or university should have an Office of Disabilities Services (it might be called Student Support of some similar label). They can assist you with testing as well as strategies to help you overcome learning difficulties!

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First, a couple of thoughts about your emotional state: a) DON'T GIVE UP! b) Even though you should not give up, you must TAKE IT EASY a little bit.  From your message, I can tell that you are quite intelligent, and a pretty good writer.  So cool off, relax, and let things take their own course.  I am confident that you will find a path to success.  It may be completely different than the path you imagine, but you will find it.

Next, a couple of thoughts on note-taking.

The biggest mistake that most students make is that they try to write down everything that the teacher says, and they try to do so in complete, correct sentences.  The key to good note-taking is to listen carefully for the most important point and then write it in a few words, without worrying about proper grammar, spelling, etc.

Let's imagine that your history professor gives a lecture on communism.  She might deliver the following two sentences to define the term "communism":

    a) a form of socialism that abolishes private ownership

    b) a political theory favoring collectivism in a classless    


If you try to copy all of that, you'll soon be lost.  But you can easily write the following:

      Comunism: no priv. ownership, no social classes

Notice that not all the words are spelled corectly, and that there is no complete sentence.

Another tip is to try to pick up on the structure of what the speaker is saying. 

For example, if the professor is comparing and contrasting capitalism and communism, then you can organize your notes in a simple chart.  Just draw a line down the middle of the page and label one column communism and the other capitalism.

If the teacher is describing a process, such as how a bill is moved through Congress, then it's good idea to number the steps.

Sometimes using pictures can be helpful.  If the professor is describing the accomplishments and personality of George Washington, draw a quick picture of G.W.  Then, write short phrases about him around the picture.  If an item corresponds to a particular part of his body, put the phrase there.  For example, if the professor mentions that G.W. was a land surveyor, draw a tape measure next to his hand, and write the words land surveyor.




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The first thing I would say is try not to get discouraged or frustrated.  The things you write about in your question are very common issues I find with my students over the past seventeen years of teaching.  There are some basic things you can do right away to improve focus and mental agility.  One, make sure you get eight hours of sleep per night.  Most students your age are sleep deprived, and it slows brain function.  Since your body is still growing, you need 8 hours.  You'll need less when you're older, but I'd say very few 18 year olds get that kind of sleep.  Secondly, eat well. Avoid foods with too much sugar or caffeine.  Eat a solid breakfast with things like oatmeal, or eggs, orange juice, etc.  Also, peppermint has been proven to stimulate brain function, so take a few with you on test day.

If you do have a learning disability, which is also very common, then there are some simple tests to determine which one it is, and then there are steps to deal with virtually all kinds.  It basically involves retraining your brain to go around the disability.  I have seen many students improve their grades and focus with these strategies.

Lastly, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something with your life.  Whatever you want to.  Counselors are well meaning, but they don't know everything.  This is your life.  Make choices that suit you, and then strive to reach those goals.  Chin up, and good luck.

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