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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

How to take notes

 

Changing text to key points

Look at the following paragraph, which has key and minor points identified.

Bottleneck problems

There is a limit to the amount of information that can be transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory. Only 5-7 pieces of information can be remembered at one time. This limited capacity of the long-term memory to absorb information to be stored is known as the bottleneck problem. In practical terms this means for example, that after reading a chapter of a text book, only 5-7 pieces of information can be effectively remembered and everything else will be forgotten. Chunking is a very useful technique for getting around the bottleneck problem. This means organising many smaller bits of information into fewer, larger bits. In other words, think of one complete wall instead of thinking 200 bricks. Therefore, it is essential to develop strategies for organising the information in a way that will make it easier for the brain to cope with.

key and minor points
There is a limit to the amount of information that can be transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory. [minor point: Only 5-7 pieces of information can be remembered at one time]. This [key point: limited capacity] of the long-term memory to absorb information to be stored is known as the [key point: bottleneck problem]. In practical terms this means for example, that after reading a chapter of a text book, only 5-7 pieces of information can be effectively remembered and everything else will be forgotten. [key point: Chunking] is a very useful technique for getting around the bottleneck problem. This means [key point: organising many smaller bits of information into fewer, larger bits]. In other words, think of [minor point: one complete wall instead of thinking 200 bricks]. Therefore, it is essential to develop [minor point: strategies for organising the information] in a way that will make it easier for the brain to cope with.

Now, look at how the information has been organised into key points and minor points.

Image describing how write effective notes by sorting information into key points and minor points with the use of abbreviations, drawings, colour for emphasis etc.