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Academic Learning Center

Note-Taking Tips

Did you know that 20 minutes after learning something, you’ve forgotten 47% of what you learned? Note-taking is the #1 way to help you retain information better! Do you struggle taking notes effectively? Don’t know how to take notes? Don’t know what to take notes on?

Before Lecture:

-Do the readings

-Review your notes on the readings and from the last class BEFORE class starts

During Lecture:

-Only write down the main points (and not EVERYTHING the professor says). How do you know what these are? As Brett & Kate McCay point out in Money & Careers magazine, “Pay attention to your cues from your professor. Here are some guidelines for when to write:

            -Anytime the professor says “You will need to know this” or “This will be on the test”

-Anytime the professor repeats herself, especially if he says it SLOWLY (he wants you to write it down)

            -Anything the professor writes on the board or on a PowerPoint slide

-Watch for language that emphasizes relationships among ideas: first, second, third, especially, most importantly, significantly, however, on the other hand, because, so, therefore, consequently.

After Lecture:

-Review your notes right after class

-Synthesize your notes into a master outline (on the computer or in your notebook)

-Write a brief summary of the material from that day's lecture

-Use mind mapping: make a visual of your notes, use bright colors, draw connections, and write important words

-Use Cornell style notes: divide your paper into two columns--keywords on one side, and notes and elaboration on the other side

Resource: McCay, Brent & Kate. “Write This Down: Note-Taking Strategies for Success.” Retrieved from

--Article by Kiona Rolfes