Take Note: Note-Taking 101 and Study Tips

note taking tips

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Note-taking is a crucial part of one’s grade. It’s the very thing that makes or breaks a student’s outcome in a class. Yet, a good portion of students is poor note-takers. A lot of school systems have failed to make it part of the teachers’ requirements to guide students through the tedious process.

This is a skill that ought to be taught starting at an early age to ensure students’ success. Being a college student and free essay writer myself, I witness the multitude of fellow students who are clueless as to what techniques are efficient when note-taking. And we’re talking college-age students (ages 18-22). Don’t let that be the case for you.

For those who struggle with or are looking to improve their note-taking abilities/skills, here are some helpful, rather common sense, suggestions to better your note-taking know-how and to better your grade:

Be prepared: This is the oldest “classroom rule” known to the academic world. Have your pen/pencil and paper (or computer, for that matter) out and ready. If the teacher begins while you’re rummaging through your bookbag for all your note-taking materials, you might miss out on something important.

Focus Your Notetaking

note taking advice
credit: cottonbro

If your teacher/professor provides you with notes via PowerPoint presentation, word, or blackboard (an online tool available for professors and students to communicate more efficiently and an easy way for professors to post assignments, quizzes, tests, and make notes available for students), don’t waste your time writing down what you already know, have already taken notes on, or have been given notes on. It’s redundant and does you no good.

Listen: The teacher/professor isn’t just babbling (most of the time, anyway); they are more than likely saying something important that will be on your test and something that may be material not in your book or your notes (aka bonus points).

Use Notetaking Shorthand

how to take notes
credit: Ivan Samkov

Do not write every word down. A lot of passages and paragraphs tend to be lengthy. You don’t need to write down notes that contain the, and, but, or, they, etc. Write down important names, dates, and significant events, etc. Only write down the important keywords.

Learn to write without having to look at what you’re writing. If you’re to be successful in college and beyond, you have to be able to multitask. Period. This will take time to master, but rest assured, over time you will master this skill.

Write quickly. Do not linger making sure you crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s and that your handwriting is in tip-top shape. As long as you can read it, that’s all that counts.

Add to Notes While You Read

how to take better notes
credit: Ivan Samkov

When out of the classroom and studying in your own time, while reading the material from your book, add information to your notes from class, covering all bases for each section of each chapter.

If given a series or list to remember/memorize, try using an easy-to-remember, acronymic phrase. For example, the website writemyessaycheap suggests that if you’re to memorize the first 5 elements on the periodic table (Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, and Boron) take the first letter of each element and line them up vertically. Then, come up with a catchy phrase to remember each item. You might come up with something like: “Harry Had Little Bed Bugs;” the phrase doesn’t have to make sense, per se, just as long as you can remember it. I’ve found that sometimes the sillier the phrase, the easier to remember.

Go back and highlight vocabulary words, important names and/or dates, etc. Make sure these words stand out when reviewing your notes.

How to Prepare For Tests

note taking tips
credit: Zen Chung

When preparing for a test, I like to go through all my notes several times in a careful manner. The point isn’t to zip through them in twenty minutes and be done; you learn nothing that way. After you’ve reviewed your notes thoroughly, take a fresh sheet of notebook paper and use it solely for writing down things that you have/had a difficult time remembering/learning. Study this sheet over and over and in a very thorough manner. These are the things you feel you have the hardest time with and need more time to devote to studying.

There are countless techniques for effective note-taking and studying. These 10 basic means have been the most helpful to me through the years; I graduated from high school in the top 10% of my class (of 350+ students). These methods won’t disappoint you. Of course, everyone has their style of learning — whether it be hands-on, visual, audible, etc. Find what works best for you and conquer those tedious courses with your note-taking proficiency!


How to Study Successfully