Notes on Non-Technical Readings

Non-technical courses are all those that are not focused on formulas and equations (like math, economics, science and engineering classes tend to be). They are the arts, humanities, social sciences-type of classes.

In non-technical courses, you want to take a one-pager of notes for every chapter or article you read. Look for the same Question – Evidence – Conclusion format that you're tuned in to for your lectures.

Here's what you do:

  1. Find the thesis statement – likely in the first couple paragraphs or last couple paragraphs of the article or chapter. This is usually the Conclusion to the Question.
  2. Identify the Question.
  3. Skim the article and put check marks next to key points of Evidence.
  4. When finished skimming, go back to these check marks and type into your notes a brief but complete summary of each point of Evidence, being sure to include the page number where it is found.

You’re done.

Your final product should be no more than one page with a clearly labelled Question: ... at the top of the page, and Conclusion: ... at the bottom of the page, with about a half-dozen bullet points of Evidence in between.

This note-taking strategy is taken from How to Become a Straight A Student by Cal Newport. It's a great book, jam-packed with really helpful advice. Get it. Read it. No, I don't know the guy. (But the book is good.)