10 Effective Ways To take Study Notes

September 14, 2019
Exam Advice

Being equipped with effective note-taking skills always comes handy if you are a student, irrespective of your level of education. While taking notes, it is crucial to select the required information instead of just transforming information blindly from some source. Some might find this option useful but more often than not, it is rather time-consuming.

Taking well-organised study notes is easier said than done. However, when done correctly, you will end up with organised and efficient notes that can be used for reviewing the material taught in class. While there is no ‘correct’ method of taking notes, there are different ways in which different people find practicality in taking down important information. 

So, what is it exactly that makes notes ‘good’? What distinguishes good notes from the rest? This guide shows you ten effective ways to take down notes efficiently.

Be prepared for class

Before you head to class, make sure to familiarise yourself with the topic that will be taught in class. If you have been assigned some homework or reading, do complete those. Doing so will help you have a better idea of what is taught and it would be much easier to grasp the concept. Consequently, it would be easier for you to take notes too. Pack up all the necessary stationery that you would require in class from notebooks to highlighters etc.

Improve auditory skills

Keep a positive attitude when you enter the class. Go in with a decision of making a conscious effort to pay attention to the teacher. Being concentrated and focused on the topic being taught helps you to get the most out of the information you are being presented with. Focusing on the lecture without letting yourself zone out, would help you in jotting down important points easily. Don’t get too stressed about the heaps of information thrown at you, note down points one at a time and let the teacher worry about the technical jargon

Improve visual content

A vast majority of people retain information a lot better if they are accompanied by visual content. This includes using pens of different colours, highlighting important content or keywords, using symbols or figures. Dividing your content with headings, sub-headings, paragraphs and columns can also make it look organised. With the use of such figures in your notes, you might be able to create a picture in your head and recall information easier when you revise.

Be concise

When you are in a class, you have to be super mindful of what is being taught and what you are noting down. You have to be careful as to not make any mistakes while copying down information. However, you also have to be quick in noting things down or else, you might zone out and when you do concentrate again, you will realise that you have missed a bunch of information. So, to avoid these, make sure to write down keywords and information in short points. You don’t have to rush and try to follow the pace of the teacher. Condense the information into concise pieces so that it is understandable and easier to revise.

Use your computer

Using your personal computer may give you a slight edge in taking down notes for different subjects if you are comfortable with typing. With the number of software available such as Evernote or One Note (this is not a sponsored post), note-taking has never been easier. It is possible to organise your notes into different sections, separate them into different categories or subjects. Additional features can help you include images, use different coloured pens or highlight stuff. It is also easy to draw figures and graphs. On the other hand, you are also being sustainable by reducing the use of paper and ink.


This is one of the easier and simpler methods of taking notes. It also takes much lesser time and hence, is very efficient at times when you have to transcribe information almost every second. In this method, you note down a few key points at first. Later on, you can write down more information about the topic as the teacher proceeds further. However, if you don’t write about it in-depth, it might be difficult to review for you later.  

Web Mapping

The web mapping technique might look messy at first but it is definitely very useful in understanding relationships between different topics. It is a visual method in which there is a main topic out of which several sub-topics branch out. This branching can help one in understanding the connection between different topics and in remembering them as well. One can also opt to include additional info under these sub-headings.

Cornell Method

The Cornell method is the most useful method if you are looking to maintain well-organised notes. In this method, the page is divided into 3 different sections, namely, the notes section, cues section and the summary section. The cues section is to the left of the page and is about 2.5 inches thick. To its right is the notes section. Below these two is the summary section at the bottom which is about 2 to 2.5 inches thick. The notes section is where you jot down all the necessary information in class. It can be filled with headings, sub-headings, diagrams, symbols etc. The cues section includes keywords and phrases that would help in reviewing the info in the notes section. The summary section is filled with information after you have reviewed your notes and summarised them well.

Using post-its and flashcards

An optional way of adding information is to use post-it notes. If you feel like you have to jot down a few points or short notes that could come handy later but you do not really see how to fit it in your main notes, you can always use a post-it to note it down and stick it on a section of your notebook. You can get rid of it later if you think it is not too important without having to mess up your actual notes. Using flashcards can also help in reviewing the material later as these include concise important information and you would not have to clutter your notebook.

Review, edit and upgrade your notes

Taking effective notes is not the last step in this process. You cannot just take notes and let them collect dust. You need to review the material and study whatever you’ve taken down. Use these notes to prepare for your next class. While you review them, you will also be able to find any mistakes that you might have made while writing. So, correct those and keep upgrading your material with new information. Using different coloured pens for the corrected information can be helpful.

Last but not least, while this is not a mandatory step, it might help to transfer your scribbled notes to another notebook and make another neater version of it. It could help in reviewing later and it would not look too messy or cluttered.


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