Making your Notes Count

Note-taking is an important way to “translate” the information that your teacher is giving you into your own words.  Effective note-taking allows you to interact with the material and develop your understanding of it.  Here are a few pointers to guide your note-taking strategy.

1. Label all of your notes with a date, the name of the course and the corresponding textbook chapter or topic.

2. Write what is on the board. If the teacher takes the time to write something on the board, it is likely to be important.

3. Listen for "buzz words" or vocabulary words that you've seen in your textbook or readings. These, along with numbered points, definitions and lists, are indicators of important information.

4. Listen 80% of the time and write 20% of the time. Don't get so caught up in writing down every word, that you fail to listen to the overall concepts being presented.

5. Abbreviations and symbols are great “shortcuts” when note-taking but be sure that you’ll recognize what they mean when you are reviewing your notes at a later time. 

6. Review your notes after class to make sure they are accurate and complete. Ask your teacher to clarify any concepts that you feel your notes may not have thoroughly covered


Adapted from "Tips for Developing Students' Note-Taking Skills,"