An important aspect of earning good grades is knowing the material that will be on a test. Effective note-taking allows you to organize lecture material so you can review it later. Because it's nearly impossible to write everything an instructor says, you must employ shorthand to record the most important concepts and ideas in a way that is easily recalled. The L-STAR is a five-step method for efficient note-taking.
The letter "L" in L-STAR stands for listening. In this system, active listening is one of the keys to effective note-taking. Physical location in a classroom can increase or decrease active listening. If you sit in the back of a lecture hall or classroom, you might be more easily distracted or have trouble hearing what the instructor is saying. The L-STAR method suggests that you sit in the first row of a class or as close as you can to the front. This lets you hear clearly and also increases your focus.
Setting it Down
The second component of the L-STAR method is setting down the words of a lecture, which requires you to develop a note-taking shorthand. The key is to write the most important ideas of a lecture in your own words, so that when you go back to review them, you clearly understand what you've written. Several methods exist to take good notes, but in general, you should write concise sentences with extensive use of abbreviation that emphasizes major ideas.
The "T" in the L-STAR method stands for translating, which is the process of reviewing your notes after a lecture and rewriting them for greater clarity. To maximize your recall, you should translate your notes as soon as possible after a class. Translation requires you to read your notes, then summarize the key concepts. It encourages you to ask questions about the notes and gives you the opportunity to see how different topics and concepts relate to each other.
Analyzing and Remembering
The last two letters of the L-STAR acronym stand for "Analyzing" and "Remembering." Analysis is part of the translation process because it requires you to look at your notes and ask questions about why the material is important, tests your knowledge of concepts and highlights subject areas that you don't understand. Through analysis, you gain an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses in your knowledge of the material. Once you've put all these components together, you are then prepared to remember the material through rigorous study of notes that now make sense and are well-structured and organized. Methods to help you remember include the use of mnemonic devices, repetition exercises and using word cues to help with recall of important information.
Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.