Listening For Main Ideas

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to write down during a lecture. Here are a few tips to help you listen for main ideas.

Write it down when the professor:

  • Says it's important or repeats the information
  • Writes information on the board or overhead
  • Breaks down material into steps (any information important enough to explain thoroughly is important enough to record in your notes)
  • Gives contrasts or pros and cons
  • Changes vocal tone or volume--this often indicates excitement; information that a professor is excited about often ends up on tests

Signal words and phrases may also indicate a professor is saying something you should remember. Some signal words and phrases are:

Listening word chart