Articles Hub |
Return to Main page

Illustration of four people around a sylized globe, one person is holding a large blue pencil, one is drawing a graph on a tablet, one is gesturing towards a flow chart, and one is looking on pensively

student success

Top 9 Tips for Effective Notetaking

Effective notetaking has a range of benefits. It can help you learn new information easily, study for exams successfully, and find key data readily. How do you take notes effectively?

Here are nine tips to get you started.

1. Uni-task.

Don't try to take notes while you’re watching TV or doing another activity. This will reduce your efficiency and recall, and it’ll hinder you from organizing your thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information.

2. “Chunk” your reading.

Read in sections, and then write down notes for each section. If you read an entire work at once, you may risk missing key information.

3. Don’t over-highlight.

Highlighting can prevent you from homing in on key phrases or sentences. It also ties you to your textbook for future review, and it discourages you from putting content into your own words.

4. Turn headings into questions.

Then, answer the questions with your notes below.

5. Put notes in your own words.

This will help you synthesize and retain information.

6. Don’t be afraid to try new strategies.

For instance, research shows that we learn more from writing than from typing—but if one or the other works better for you, do that!

7. Remember the 80/20 Rule.

Typically, 20 percent of what you study actually matters for the exam, and 20 percent of content in a course comprises the majority of the exam. How do you know what’ll make the cut? Usually, content discussed in class is important. (Pay attention to how much time your instructor spends on each topic, too.)

8. Try to understand material rather than memorize it.

If you understand it, you’ll be able to answer a wide variety of questions; if you memorize specific pieces of information, the scope of what you’ll be comfortable answering becomes narrower.

9. Draw pictures or maps in your notes.

These can help you understand the connections between concepts—and the pictures themselves may help you remember content when you’re taking an exam.

Want more helpful study tips? Watch our “Mastering Your Study Skills” webinar hosted by Dr. Amy Dietzman.