Note taking leads to academic success.

Class notes are very important and are often the source of test questions.

  • Class attendance is extremely important. If you aren't in class, you can't take notes. If, for some reason you must miss class, be sure to get notes from a classmate.
  • Begin your notes for each class period with the date and topic for that day.
  • Take as many notes as possible. While you are taking notes don't worry about spelling, handwriting or format. You can revise your notes after class if necessary.
  • If you are experiencing difficulty taking notes, you might also record the lecture (ask your instructor for permission) then replay the audio and add any information you have missed to your notes.
  • As you take notes, indicate important information with a star or other marking. 
  • Review your notes. Once a week, rapidly read through the notes you have taken since the last test. This will give you a head start when it is time to learn the material.


Three important steps: observe, record, review


OBSERVE - nine things to watch and listen for:

  1. Main points
  2. Key words (first, second, third, etc.)
  3. Anything written on the whiteboard or called out in a Power Point
  4. Visuals
  5. Repetition
  6. Pauses
  7. Anything read directly from the book or notes
  8. Tone of voice/level of excitement
  9. Obvious clues ("This will be on the test...")

RECORD - five ways to take your notes:

  1. The Cornell Method: divide your paper into three sections: a narrow left column, wide right column and small section at the bottom. See each section's purpose below.
    1. Take notes in the right column of the paper
    2. Use the left column during review to write key words
    3. Use the bottom section to write summaries
    4. Write on one side of the paper
  2. Flow Chart: Organize your material by drawing lines to connect notes in a specific order.
  3. Mind Map: Begin with a main idea in the middle of the page and draw lines to connect related ideas to each other.
  4. Outline: Order your notes with numbers and letters as you would index information, such as the main idea at the top and supporting information indented and numbered below.
  5. Key Word: Summarize the main idea at the top and list supporting key words below.

REVIEW - six strategies

Without practice and rehearsal, information is lost. With each review, more of the material is solidified and stored in your long-term memory.
  1. Review as soon as possible after class, but within 24 hours.
  2. Edit your notes and fill in gaps.
  3. Create and fill in the key word column.
  4. Write a summary.
  5. Write down any questions you have.
  6. Create a visual.