Academic Resource Center


Note Taking

Come to class prepared

  • Read or survey the assigned reading before class
  • Review your notes from the previous class
  • Bring your text to class

Pay particular attention to:

  • the beginning and end of the lecture (main idea, summary)
  • anything repeated or otherwise emphasized
  • information not included in the text
  • when the instructor disagrees with the text

Useful Suggestions

  • Use a 3-ring binder with loose-leaf paper and pockets for handouts
  • Put a date and topic heading at the top of each day’s notes
  • Use plenty of “white space” – skip lines to separate ideas
  • Write on one side of the page only (use the “blank” side for questions, text notes, etc.)
  • Indicate the page number of the text if the instructor mentions it
  • Star anything your instructor implies will be included on the test
  • If confused about something, put a question mark in the margin for later clarification
  • If possible, compare your notes with someone else’s to check for accuracy and thoroughness
  • Listen actively – write the main ideas and enough detail that the ideas make sense (don’t try to write every word)
  • Develop a system of symbols and abbreviations

Review your notes as soon as possible after class (same day), and the week’s notes at the end of the week. Use color to emphasize key words and concepts. Summarize or revise if you find that to be useful. Predict test questions. Think. Make connections. Don’t stockpile your notes until the week before a test. Make your notes work for you.