College Student’s Guide to Take Notes Effectively


Unemployment rates seem to be going down bit by bit, but all young professionals seeking jobs today quickly find out that having a degree is a significant advantage. Surveys indicate that having at least some level of college indication increases your chances of employment. Therefore, succeeding in class is imperative for your future, and efficient note taking can help you achieve this goal.

Why Note Taking Matters

The world today is overflowing with information, which makes it hard to keep track of the most relevant facts. In essence, note taking is the process of organizing the flow of information and condensing it in a way that makes it comprehensible.

If developed and utilized properly, this skill can help you:

  • Organize information presented in class to improve memorization.
  • Understand the topic better.
  • Develop stronger arguments.
  • Advance in essay writing.
  • Revise material more easily.

The most important advantage of taking notes for a student is that writing something down makes it easier to remember. This fact is the reason why despite the ease of using gadgets to record lectures, written notes remain one of the best learning instruments. Therefore, finding deals on school supplies is as important for a college student as searching for useful mobile apps that will help collate and revise notes.

Tips for Identifying Relevant Information

The most common mistake that people make when taking notes is trying to write down every single word. This approach takes too much time and concentration and prevents you from focusing on the lecture. As a result, you can miss out important material.

To become a master of excellent note taking you need to understand what kind of information you need to write down. Good lecturers make this task easier by providing important cues that signify the relevance of the data.

Things to look for during note taking are:

  • Repetitions
  • Emphasis (both by tone of voice and word signals, e.g. ‘pay attention to’, ‘take note of’)
  • Summaries and descriptions of objects/topics (usually presented at the beginning and end of class)
  • Visual cues (PowerPoint slides or notes on the blackboard)

How to Take Notes: 3 Simple Techniques

As every person is unique, it’s natural to develop an individual method for note taking. In fact, it’s strongly recommended to create your own system of abbreviations and signs. However, you can also learn several tricks from the recognized note taking techniques and adapt them for yourself.

Cornell System

This system requires you to write down the lecture word for word, or as close as you can and analyze it after class to ‘seed out’ most relevant information. To work with notes based on the Cornell system, split the pages of your notebook in two parts (2.5” and 6”). Then, follow the 5-R process:

  1. Record the lecture in the wider part of the sheet.
  2. Reduce the ideas (1 summary sentence for every paragraph).
  3. Recite the information.
  4. Reflect on your understanding of the information and correct the notes whenever necessary.
  5. Review your notes several times.

Mind Map

This technique will work for those who have an inclination for memorizing visual schemes better than large portions of text. Start with writing down the main idea of the lecture in the middle of the page.

Then, circle it and write down the next idea near it. Connect them in a way that will allow you to understand the relationship between the two. Repeat it with every new fact.

This technique will provide you a graphical representation of the lecture, a unique image that would be easy for you to understand.

Question and Prompt System

This type of note taking requires you to write down the questions based on the information you hear and add a few prompts that will remind you of the correct answers. It’s similar to writing an outline for an essay and can be utilized when you are working with reading materials for a paper.

Improve Your Studies by Taking Notes Effectively

Every student should know how to take notes in an efficient manner as this makes studying, in general, a much easier task. It will help you make sense of the lectures and understand the topic better. Reviewing notes also helps you prepare for exams as this saves you from re-reading huge and complicated academic texts.

David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.


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