Tips for Taking More Effective Notes

With high school students taking multiple classes each day in a variety of subjects, understanding how to take quality notes is essential. Without a solid record of what was discussed, it is more difficult to complete assignments and prepare for exams. But sometimes there is so much information that it is challenging to know where to start. With improved note-taking skills, students can boost their academic performance.

Preview the Text

If you know what chapter or section you’ll be learning about, read your textbook ahead of time so you have a basic understanding of the content. This can allow you to focus more on what the teacher is saying and write down better notes because everything is not new and unknown. If there is no textbook, do a quick online search on your own about the subject or concept.

Use a New Page

Start each class’s notes on a fresh page each day. Include the date and a title, and if you use multiple pages, don’t forget to number them so they stay in order. It can be helpful to use loose-leaf paper and binder because you can rearrange your notes, add any handouts the teacher provides, and jot down additional information without everything getting out of order.

Leave Extra Room

Don’t feel the need to fill every inch of the page. Leave some space so you can go back later and add definitions, more details, or drawings.

Use Shorthand

Trying to write down everything the teacher says verbatim can waste a lot of time and energy — plus, you’re likely to fall behind and miss a lot. You’ll also be including more information than you need. Approach your notes sort of like texting and abbreviate where possible — just make sure you remember what you meant. For instance, w/ can be used for with and b/c is shorthand for because.

Focus on Key Points

Instead of trying to transcribe the whole lecture, zero in on key points. Listen for keywords such as, “The four main causes of…” or “The result was…” that tip you off that something important is about to be said. Also, make sure to jot down information the teacher repeats or emphasizes. Include names, dates, locations, and vocabulary words in your notes that you can always go back and look up more information about after class.

Add Visuals

Sketching a quick picture or graph and labeling it is a great way to help yourself organize information and better understand concepts. Leave space for drawings and don’t worry if they’re not perfect; you just want to get the most important ideas down. Charts can also be a good way to tie similar content together.

Ask Questions

Unsure about something? Make a note to yourself to ask the teacher later or raise your hand and ask at an appropriate time. Chances are, if you don’t understand something, there are other people that don’t either! Plus, it allows you to take clearer, more concise notes because you’re not guessing about details.

Note taking is a valuable skill you’ll use for the rest of your life, but it’s something that takes practice. Crafting Scholars can help you improve your note taking skills and figure out what strategies work best for you to manage information. Brush up on plenty of other organizational and test taking skills as well to be more successful in school! Contact us today to learn more or sign up for tutoring.