Note Taking Skills: 20 Quick Tips - Academic Success Center

Note Taking Skills: 20 Quick Tips - Academic Success Center
Note Taking Skills:
20 Quick Tips
Academic Success Center
Iowa State University
1. Read your book chapter or slides before class.
Note taking comes easier when you advanced
context of the material.
2. Develop the intention to learn while you are in
lecture. You’ve made the effort and taken the
time to attend. Now make the most of your time
by learning information as you receive it. The
more information you understand, the less you’ll
have to memorize.
3. Start by entering the classroom with a positive
attitude. Going to class thinking, “there is no
reason for me to be here” only sets the stage for
inactive listening. Approaching lectures with a
positive mentality allows one to be open-minded
and enables you to get the most out of the
information presented.
4. Take a minute before class to strategize what
will likely be discussed based on the syllabus,
what has been presented in the course so far,
your notes from the last lecture, and a quick
glance at the readings assigned (using
THIEVES) for the current class.
5. Start each lecture on a new page and be sure to
date and number each page. The sequence of
material is important.
6. Think about your own understanding of the
concepts before you start making notes. Don't
take notes just to be taking notes! Your notes
should be of value to you when you look over
them at a later date.
7. Take selective notes. Don’t try to copy
information word for word.
8. Notes should consist of key words or very short
sentences. If a speaker gets sidetracked it is
often possible to go back and add further
9. Use an outline format and/or a numbering
system. Indention also helps you distinguish
major from minor points.
11. Note anything you don’t understand by
underlining or highlighting to remind you to ask
the instructor or look up later.
12. Listen for clues. When the speaker takes a deep
breath, changes their intonation, puts down the
marker, big things are coming.
13. Lecture notes should be as specific and
concrete as possible but also precise about the
lecturer’s key ideas. It makes them easier to
understand, remember, and apply in the future.
14. Connect the relationship between information
presented in lecture and information presented
in the readings, in the written work, and in the
problems assigned.
15. Keep a record of questions relating to the
material as they go along. This makes it easy to
follow up with professors, or to offer a question
at the end of the lecture. Keeping a list of
questions will also give you easy reference
points when you need to re-engage with your
notes for a paper or project
16. Don't keep notes on oddly shaped pieces of
paper. Keep notes in order and in one place.
17. Shortly after making your notes, go back and
rework (not redo) your notes by adding extra
points and spelling out unclear items.
Remember, we forget rapidly. Allow time for this
vital step just as you do for the class itself.
18. Review your notes regularly. This is the only
way to achieve lasting memory.
19. Having a friend in class can be extremely
helpful! If you have to miss class, are unable to
take notes, and/or have gaps in your notes you
will have someone to help you. Exchange phone
numbers with a classmate so that you have a
backup source if you need it.
20. Remember, as you take notes consistently you
will develop skill in selecting important material
and in discarding unimportant material. The
secret to developing this skill is practice.
10. Don't worry about missing a point, you can
always fill in this information after the lecture.
The Academic Success Center is part of the Dean of Students Office at Iowa State University
1060 Hixson-Lied Student Success Center  515-294-6624  [email protected] 
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