Note-taking in class has never been fun (or easy), and it’s a skill you won’t use much. But we’ve created the ultimate guide to note-taking in class because we know that note-taking is useful and can even be done fast and without pain. We’ve helped thousands of students learn how to take notes in class, so you’ll be sure to get all the help you need.

The Ultimate Guide to Note-Taking in Class provides an easy step-by-step approach to helping you take notes effectively and combining your notes into a powerful memory system that will help you memorize information better and ace any test.

Note-taking in class is an integral part of general education and a valuable skill that prepares you for a future in the workforce. It’s also a place where many students struggle – this guide will help you stop struggling and start excelling.

In college, you’re given a lot of notes that probably don’t make a lot of sense. Here is a guide to taking notes in class that will help you remember them.

Effective note-taking techniques can help you improve your grades. You remember the information better and keep it for longer. You may also look forward to the following advantages:

  • Transforming into an “active listener.”
  • Gaining the ability to learn effectively.
  • Obtaining a “storage” of material for use in test preparation or essay writing.
  • Our specialists at writing a paper for me suggest taking notes by hand rather than typing.

A Quick Guide to Taking Notes:

  1. Before class, read the appropriate portions of the textbook.
  2. Make a point of writing down all of the critical things throughout the class.
  3. After you’ve finished, go over your notes again.

You’ll be able to record the fastest lectures if you have good note-taking abilities.

You now have a fantastic study tool to utilize when you create assignments or study for tests.

Three Popular Note-taking Methods for College

When I first began taking notes in college, I copied everything the professor wrote on the board. When I began to look up terms in a dictionary, my notes got longer and longer. Finally, after researching my notes, I began to realize that I had been writing down everything I could but hadn’t bothered to learn anything.

Then I learned how to write notes, and I began to get better grades. This is a basic problem: Almost all students take notes the same way, but almost no one writes down anything worth reading.

Copying everything the professor writes on the board is the simplest possible method. It turns out that copying everything the teacher writes on the board is a terrible method.

In college, taking notes is ridiculously important. No matter how smart you are, you won’t remember much of what your professor says if you don’t take notes. On the other hand, if you take good notes, you will remember what the professor said. So, how do you take notes?

In this section, we’ll look at several note-taking methods. The most common include the following:

1. The outline approach aids in the organization of information by presenting broad details on the left and particular facts and explanations on the right. Except in science classrooms, when you must draw many formulae, graphs, or structures, it is generally beneficial.

2. The Cornell approach divides the document into particular sections, allowing you to compress and arrange your notes without rewriting them.

3. The mapping approach aids in the graphic representation of information so that you can understand how diverse concepts and facts relate to one another. It is highly beneficial to visual learners.

You may read a comprehensive description of the approaches in the infographic, try them out, and pick the note-taking template that best matches your needs.

1. Taking notes using the outline method

An outline is a series of headings that organize your thoughts. You put ideas into topics and topics into subtopics.

If you use an outline to learn, you will be surprised how quickly you learn and how much more you learn.

Probably the best thing you can do to learn anything is to organize it. One way to organize it is by outlining. An outline is a set of headings, each heading an idea that you should learn. The outline becomes a kind of map.

An outline is especially helpful if you do not know the subject well or are studying it for the first time. (If you do know the subject, an outline may be unnecessary.)

When learning a subject, you can usually gain a lot just by listening. But at some point, you will have to start taking notes. Only by taking notes can you start organizing your thinking.

An outline is especially useful when you take notes. At any moment, your notes should be organized in outline form so that when you are studying them later, you can rediscover the main ideas.

Taking notes using the outline method



2. The Cornell approach in Note Taking

The Cornell method is a way of taking notes. It involves dividing a piece of paper into four quadrants and using four different colors. This method was invented in the early twentieth century and is still in use.

diagram illustrating the Cornell note taking method: a 2.5 inch cue column on the left, a 6 inch note taking area on the right, and a 2 inch summary area at the bottom of the page

The Cornell method is a system for taking notes. It has five basic steps:

  1. Start by writing down the main ideas in your own words. This helps you remember them.
  2. Underline those ideas. This lets you follow the flow of the argument and spot the points that stand out.
  3. Underline the main terms, especially the names of people, places, and things.
  4. Make notes in the margins. Use different colors for different topics.
  5. Identify important quotes.

The Cornell method was developed for lectures, but it works well for seminars and lab reports too.

It’s easy to learn, and it only takes practice to get good at it. By the time you’re done, you’ll be amazed at how much you remember.

The problem with the Cornell method, though, is that it doesn’t work. It is useful as a mnemonic device and as a way to give yourself some structure, but it is useless.

The idea behind this method is that organizing your notes this way helps you remember them. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t help you remember anything at all.

Everything that is said in class is eventually said again, probably better, and with more detail. You need some way to keep track of what you have heard and then go back and rework it into your own words.

The Cornell method is not useful for this because it encourages you to write down everything people say.

Each note starts with two numbers in the Cornell method, one on the left and one on the right. These numbers indicate which quadrant to write the note in. The left number indicates the top, and the right number indicates the bottom. So you write a number in the left box and then a number in the right box.

Then you list in the boxes what the speaker said. This is fine, but the problem is that what the speaker said doesn’t tell you anything useful.

For example, Alice says, “I gave the lecture on Tuesday.” Does that mean the lecture was two days ago or two days ago at 12 o’clock? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t matter.

Forgetting is a real problem. It’s bad enough when we forget things we know. A worse problem is that we forget things we don’t know but think we do.

Remember, the goal of note-taking is not to remember things. The goal is to remember things.

Completed Cornell Notes

Cornell Notes template

Students who take practical notes get the most out of classes and lectures, clearly understanding textbooks and assigned readings.

There are many different ways to take notes; everyone can use whichever one they feel most comfortable with. Many people find that Cornell Notes is their favorite method.

Cornell note-taking method is a seven-step procedure that includes three key stages:

Taking notes, revising notes, and reviewing and studying notes are all steps in the process.

This approach aims to take more detailed and thorough notes without having to rewrite large quantities of information.

How to use Cornell notes?

Measuring about 2.5 inches from the page’s left side, draw a vertical line. Below are noted to the right of the cue column. A summary is included below the main section.

Printable Cornell notes templates are also called the R7 (Record, Recall, Reduce, Recapitulate, Recite, Review and Reflect).

(1) “Record,” where you write the main idea for each paragraph,

(2) “Recall,” which is like your own personal quiz on what was just read and written in Record. After reading over Recall, it should be easier to answer any questions about that content.,

(3) The “Reduce” section is used as an outline of sorts or summary, so when we’re done studying, our notes will look something like this; there’s space at the bottom left for additional notes if necessary!

(4)” Recapitulate.” Here summarize everything from the text into shorter sentences/phrases without changing anything significant.

Step 1: Make a list of your notes in the “primary section” (during class)

Make a list of necessary details.

Abbreviate, utilize shorthand symbols, and employ brief phrases instead of copying the information word by word.

To keep your notes structured, use headers to distinguish critical ideas. Between the points, skip a few lines.

Step 2: Fill in the blanks as you read the notes.

Step 3: Minimize (after class)

Make a list of terms, phrases, and questions that can be used as cues in your left-hand column.

Step 4: (after class)

In the bottom part, summarize the essential points. This demonstrates how effectively you comprehended the content.

Step 5: Recite the poem.

Cover the classroom notes with your own words, read aloud the questions and keywords in the cue section, and answer or define them. Pull the paper down to double-check your work.

Step 6: Go through everything again.

Read the “primary part,” then cover it with the card and respond to the questions or phrases in the cue column.

You will enhance your memory skills if you do it in writing.

Remove the card from the table.

Step 7: Take a moment to reflect

Consider how the information you received relates to your thoughts.

3. The mapping approach

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Show don’t tell.” The basic idea is that, in prose, you should show the meaning, not just describe it. The same idea applies to taking notes.

At least, it is more important to “show” what you hear than to describe it in class. So the first step to taking notes that will help you later is to hear what the professor says.

This is harder than it sounds. The standard technique is to listen and take notes at the same time. You write down everything the professor says, even when she isn’t saying anything at all. The problem with this approach is that it makes it hard for you to “see” what the professor has said.

A better way to take notes is to map the whole class. Maps are a good way to represent detailed information that doesn’t fit easily into words. Maps let you see the connections, see how pieces fit together.

Here is an example. A professor might talk for twenty minutes about the three branches of government. If you took notes using the phrase, “The three branches of government are…,” you would end up with a page of phrases like, “…the Executive, …the Legislature, …the Judiciary.” This would be fine if you were writing an essay, but you would be hard-pressed to find any connection between those phrases.

But if you took a map instead, you would draw three branches or one branch with three branches branching from it. You don’t need to know what “the Judiciary” means; you need to know how it connects to the other two branches.

“The Judiciary” would be a node and would be connected to “the Legislature” and “the Executive.” You could make a map like this for any of the branches.

Mapping Method