Note Taking

Steps of Good Note Taking

  1. Listen
  2. Write
  3. Process
  4. Review

Start and Organize Your Binder

  • Use a separate binder for each subject.
  • Divide each binder into different sections (a section for lecture notes, notes from the text, assignments, and tests)
  • Start each lecture on a new page and date and number each page.

Prepare a Page to Take Notes

  • Divide each page into two columns: the right column for taking notes during class and the left column for recording key words and main ideas after class.   

Tips for Taking Notes

  • Take notes in different colors.
  • Leave a few blank spaces between your points, so that you can fill in more information later.
  • Make notes clear and easy to read.
  • Use short forms to save time (gov't for government).
  • Use pictures and diagrams.
  • If something is unclear, ask for clarification or make a note to clarify the point after class.
  • Write personal thoughts and signals to yourself in the margin.
  • Try to link new ideas with past lectures and personal experience.
  • Sit where you can clearly see and hear your instructor. If you are easily distracted, it my help to sit close to the front.

Highlight Important Information

  • Highlight information that your instructor emphasizes. Important information is usually written on the board, overhead or PowerPoint, so be sure to copy all notes.

Review your notes within 24 hours

Make reviewing an active process:

  • Re-write or re-type your notes.
  • Create 3x5 cards or flashcards. 
  • Review with someone else.
  • Make copies of a peer's notes and review both.
  • Review your text and insert information into your notes in provided blank spaces.
  • Create a Mind Map with the information. See an example Mind Map.
  • Rewrite in Cornell Format.
  • Create sample test questions from the lecture material.
  • Create a review sheet or guide from notes.
  • Outline the lecture and add in information form your text.
  • Write a summary and list of main points to use as an exam review.
  • Review with your tutor in CAE.
  • Ask your instructor for clarification on missed or confusing points.