How to Take Notes in College: Steps and Methods

how to take notes in college

You will be showered with books up to the eyebrows during studies, get over it. The thing that really matters is what you are going to do with it. Are you going to get buried under endless texts? Or will you take the situation into your own hands?

Here you will find out more about the most effective ways of writing down the key ideas of the lectures or textbooks and how to organize them.

Why is it necessary to know how to take good notes in college?

Let’s imagine a typical situation with a common course. You have several classes, every class has a set of units, there are schedules, textbooks, lectures and readings. And as soon as you start to feel that you begin to understand the basics of data organizing, the new semester starts and brings new classes, even more complicated. It resembles going round in circles.

Constant processing of the new information is not the activity you would like to be busy with for the rest of your courses. But a great note-taking skill can save loads of time. Here are some tips and professional pieces of advice that may sharpen your skills greatly.

How to take notes in college from a textbook by hand?p>In the perfect world the information in the textbook reviews and supplements the information given in the class by the teacher. However, in reality, many professors forget about it. As a result, students are faced with a necessity of précis-writing of the materials they’ve never heard before. Thus it is vital to take notes properly.

Get prepared

irst and foremost, it is necessary to know what is expected from you. Check the syllabus to find out what chapters you have to read. Plan your time according to the amount of papers. Look through the contents to grab the key points. Look through the charts or additional information, if there is some. Every chapter has a list of questions at the very end. Get acquainted with them to know where to pay attention.


  • Stay focused when reading the chapter
  • It is advisable to break the text into manageable sections
  • Think over the material you read. To do so, do not take notes during the first reading, but focus on the text to get to the meat of it
  • Take an advantage of tools. Use dictionaries to find the meaning of unknown words.
  • Define three crucial points of every section of the text
  • Taking notes

    o one expects you to outline the whole textbook. Of course, there are too assiduous students able to copy it from cover to cover, but it is not a good idea. It is essential to be selective, however, do not let important point slip from your attention.

    1. Paraphrase information for better understanding
    2. Use the best format that enhances your perception of the material
    3. Sometimes visual elements can boost the content quality
    4. Organize notes dedicated to each subject specifically

    Tips to boost the way you take detailed notes

    ecide what to write down. Sometimes we get information from two sources at the same time: for example, a PowerPoint presentation with teacher’s explanations. You can ask for the presentation slides after the lesson, however, a teacher won’t repeat the explanations again.

    Use the method of cadence. Any speaker emphasizes the most important things in the lecture with help of the voice. Pay attention to it and write down the ideas that were highlighted in such a way.

    Record questions as they appear. Thus it is easier to specify something in the end of the lesson.

    Review the notes after classes. It will help you to edit and expand notes in a full cry.


    How to take better notes in college by hand?

    riting is one of the most efficient ways of remembering things. It is well-documented that children remember more and understand better the material. The same cannot be said about typing. The main reason is the speed of writing: as we write we slow down and become more contacted with the content.

    • Date the notes and number pages. This approach helps to remember things in the chronological order.
    • Type your handwritten notes. It helps to edit the notes and remember it better as you repeat it.


    Tips for digital college notes

    ize the process properly. Create folders and documents for each and every lecture and add there theme-related helpful data without fear that something will be lost.

    Take an advantage of the apps and programs. For example, many users advise to use Microsoft OneNote or Evernote to organize your sketches. Such apps give a possibility to access needed files on the go using any web-connected device.

    Always cite sources. Otherwise you may be accused for plagiarizing someone else’s works. Try to use different colors or fonts for cited materials, to differentiate them from your writing.

    Many students wonder how to take notes in college with a laptop. Well, it would be better to handwrite everything. According to the researches, although students can take more notes using their gadgets, they forget more and understand less of the lectures.


    Different ways to take notes

    Cornell method

    Divide the sheet of paper in such a way that you have enough space at the bottom and on the left side for marks. Thus, summarizing points should be written in the end of the page, and key remarks in the left margin.

    The mapping method

    This method helps to interlink the topics. Here you have to branch off the main topic into subtopics with a detailed explanation.

    The outlining method

    Here you use a heading and bullet points below to hammer out the facts.

    The Charting method

    This method utilizes columns and categories. This way of data presentation helps to organize information, especially if there are many facts connected to certain topics.

    The Sentence method

    The name of this method is self-explanatory. The notes here are not organized or grouped, you just have to jot down all main points of the lesson in the sentences.

    We hope that this article threw some sunshine on the issue how to take notes in class high school. Apply them on practice! Make no bones, there is a method that will help you to organize and remember data more efficiently.