Taking notes before and during class, and engaging with those notes after class and in preparation for exams, helps prepare your brain to better hear and process the information, and sets you up to know what you'll be learning about and also to know what questions you need to get answered. But, you want to make your note-taking work best for you.
Take a look at these tips and start taking your notes - and your learning and studying - to the next level.
- Prepare your brain for information. Read before you go to class and organize your reading notes before class begins. This allows you to anticipate the lecture and make connections between what you've read and what you are hearing in lecture.
- Print any provided lecture notes. At times, instructors will post lecture notes or PowerPoint slides on Blackboard or the class website prior to class. As you write notes on those pages, try to capture new information from the lecture; don't recopy information already provided for you.
- Pay close attention to the entire lecture. Listen for main ideas, relationships between concepts, and examples. Actively think about what you’re hearing and make choices about what to write down in your notes.
- Take notes on assignments and exam information. If the lecture includes any discussion of expectations for an assignment or exam, this is important information to write down. The information may not be included on a formal assignment description or on Blackboard.
- Revisit the information. After class is over, spend time revisiting, rewriting, and/or studying your notes. Add to your notes with information from the book or information that your classmates may have written down that you missed while taking your own notes.
- Evaluate your note taking. Compare with other students, check in with the instructor, and try to use your notes to teach someone the material. If your notes do not seem effective when you revisit information or are studying later, revise your note-taking strategy.
Want more information about note-taking? Our Note Taking video can tell you more, and show you, too. Interested in seeing some note-taking styles? Check out this Note Taking 101 packet (and these examples of note taking too!).