Note taking is a valuable skill that can help you retain important information and ace your tests. Proper note taking isn’t about writing down every word your teacher says. It’s about remembering key points, getting organized, and studying effectively for tests. It’s important that students find the right note taking method or combination of methods that works best for them so they can make the most out of studying. All these methods can be done physically or digitally and while some are ideal for lectures, others are preferable for textbook reading. Take a look at six of the best note taking methods for students.
Note Taking Methods for Students
1. The Outline Method
The outline method is one of the simplest and most intuitive ways to take notes. This method is very structured and ideal for students who are skilled at outlining, think linearly, and are detail oriented. Using indents, letters, and numbers, or indents and bullets, this method organizes your notes in a visually clean and organized way. It turns notes into a hierarchy of information, providing a logical flow of content on the page. Here’s how to do it:
- Title the main lecture topics on the far left of the page
- Write headings on the left side of the document
- Write subheadings with an indent to the right of the heading
- Add points with another indent to the right of the subheading
- Add sub points with another ident to the right
- Repeat the above for each main idea and related facts that follow
Outline Method of Notetaking | University Librarian
2. The Cornell Method
The Cornell method was developed in the 1950s by a Cornell University professor named Walter Pauk. It requires little preparation, making it ideal for note taking in class. The page is divided into three sections- two vertical columns (one small, one big) and one block at the bottom of the page. It encourages note takers to revisit their notes, review what they’ve learned, and consolidate their knowledge. Here’s how it works:
- All notes from the lecture go in the main note-taking column
- The smaller section on the left side is for keywords and questions
- At the bottom of the page, write a brief summary about the content on the page
Cornell Notes Method of Taking Notes | Sacramento City College Website Media
3. The Boxing Method
The boxing method is geared toward visual learners. Boxed notes allow students to see how ideas are connected and flow from one to the other. By grouping topics in clusters, learners can take deeper dives into each subtopic while understanding how ideas are related. Here’s how to do it:
- Divide the page into two or four equal columns
- Add topic headers for each core idea and expand with notes directly below each topic
- After completing notes for each header, draw a box around the entire note section and header
Learning to Learn- the Boxing Method of Note Taking | NCC Science, Maths and Computer Science
4. The Mapping Method
The mapping method is great for visual learners as it uses graphics and structures to connect key ideas. It can be difficult to produce in lectures, but even if you don’t use it for in-class note taking, you may want to use it as a study aid. For example, after reading a chapter in your textbook, you can map out the main ideas and supporting details. Here’s how:
- Start with a main topic and place the phrase in a box or bubble in the centre of your page (the page should be landscape orientation)
- Draw a line from that topic box and write down a subtopic that summarizes the first main fact or idea covered. Draw a box or circle around it
- Continue dividing the subtopics down and outward on the page
- Add relevant notes directly under each subtopic
Note Taking Training- Mapping Method | UTM RGASC Academic Skills
5. The Sentence Method
This method is one of the simplest methods of note taking and is ideal when needing to quickly absorb lots of information. It’s particularly useful for fast-paced lectures that cover a lot of content, especially lectures that cover unfamiliar content. Some tips? Be brief with your sentences, use common abbreviations or symbols to save time, and go back and highlight key ideas after the session.
- Start with a fresh page for each new lecture
- For every new idea or piece of information, write a concise clear sentence
- Leave spaces between sentences for additional points or elaborations
- Number each new sentence
Mastering the Sentence Method: Elevate Your Note Taking Skills | Meaning of the Words
6. The Blurting Method
The blurting method is an active recall technique that can be used to help you learn and remember information. It involves testing yourself on the material you’re trying to learn by reading a section of notes, closing them, and writing down as much of the information as you can remember. It makes your brain work harder to retain information, giving you a better understanding of the material.
- Read a passage of text or notes
- Close the notes
- Write down as much of the information as you can recall
- Check your textbook to see if you wrote anything wrong, and correct your mistakes with a different colour pen
How to do The Blurting Method | AERI
These note taking methods will help you improve your studying so you can understand what you’re learning and ace your tests!
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