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Note Taking Strategies

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Author: Carla Abraham


Taking good notes is a critical part of academic success in college. Good notetaking strategies can help you understand relationships and material which means BETTER GRADES!

1. Find a notetaking strategy that works for you.

This should be based on your learning style. Some people do well with outlines while others do better with index cards or diagrams.

2. Don’t go to class clueless!!

Read assigned reading material and handouts BEFORE class. This way you can come to class prepared. You can make better use of your class time by clarifying information with your professor and asking questions instead of struggling to understand what’s going on.

3. Make sure you can read your own notes!

If you can’t read your own notes then they won’t be of much value to you later on. Review your notes after each class while the lecture is still fresh in your mind and correct any words or phrases that are not comprehensible to you.

4.  Make notetaking fun!

Use different highlighters, stickers and notecards. Be creative!! Highlight important phrases and concepts. Use stickers to different categories or topics. It will make your notes easier to identify and add a little flair to the notetaking process.

5. Share notes with classmates!

Everyone has an individual style of notetaking. Sharing notes with other classmates can help you by giving you different perspectives on the material. It is especially important to get notes from classes you miss!

6. Be a proactive listener!

This requires coming to class with a clear head. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand. Understand relationships and try to understand the what, why, how and where. Make an effort to understand and create something on paper to record your understanding.

7.  Write down key phrases, ideas, vocabulary and formulas!

Listen for cues and important information. You can’t write down everything but you can record the main ideas, phrases and information from you lecture. It takes time to train your ear but good listening and practice will make this easier in time.

8.  Recite your notes!

Read your notes out loud! Whether you are alone or with others, the process of reading out loud helps you retain information.

9.  Use pictures, symbols, mapping and diagrams when possible.

This is an extremely helpful strategy particularly if you are a visual learner and/or analytic in nature.

10.  Use abbreviations when possible.

Using abbreviations for common words will save you time and space.