College Note Taking Strategies – 4 Powerful Methods To Take Lecture Notes

Why do I need to write down the lecture notes? Taking notes is a great way to organize knowledge and remember the most critical information in a lesson, a webinar, or preparing a report. This article will talk about practical college note taking strategies and how to take notes using different methods.

It is essential to take notes while studying. This is a talent that is best learned in high school. Even those who are writing essays for money utilize note-taking and outline skills to stay organized. However, it is critical from the earliest days of college and university. After all, the student requires the following structure in their approach:

  1. Quickly write down vast amounts of information in lectures.
  2. Structure data to make it easier to remember.
  3. Preparing for tests and exams, and with notes, it is much easier to do.

Sometimes teachers allow you to use your notes during tests. Many require you to bring them for review, and without them, they do not give you a good mark. You will succeed in college if you know how to take notes. Don’t be lazy when using this skill.

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The Four Types of Note Taking Methods For College Students

college note taking
College Note Taking Methods

Taking notes dramatically facilitates the learning of educational material. There are several types of notetaking tips for college:

  • The planned lecture notes are based on the plan; the information in the notes reveals each of its points.
  • The lecture notes scheme helps to form a logical link with the help of schemes.
  • The textual lecture notes consist of quotations that are logically connected with each other.
  • The free lecture notes contain outlines, theses, and references.
  • The thematic lecture notes reveal a specific topic, for example, reflecting the chronology of events.

#1 Extract the main idea and write it down

This method is beneficial for taking notes on educational literature. First, we open the book (brochure, manual) and go through the material in one to five paragraphs, looking for the essence. Then, we make a note of it.

At the same time, the skill of extracting vital information from large volumes is being developed.

It is the most effective note-taking methods for college during a lecture. It will not be accessible at first; you will begin writing down everything the teacher says, fearful of missing something important. However, if you pay attention to the teacher’s words rather than mechanically fixing them, you will soon acquire the basis or core idea.

A bonus of this method will be a better understanding of the lectures.

Try to write your notes in legible handwriting. You’ll thank yourself later. Otherwise, you will not understand anything in your scribbles when preparing for the test or exam. Of course, the teacher has no right to criticize the handwriting but will not approve if you hand over your notes, which can not be read.

#2 The index method – the more schemes, the better

Five Easy Study Tips To Help You Le...

It consists of using tables, graphs, and figures underlining key concepts. Arrows, frames, charts, tables, graphs, drawings, and other visual aids are great helpers in understanding connections and remembering key concepts. Use them in your notes.

You can intersperse them in the text or put them in the margins to attract attention. For example, if the teacher dictated an unfamiliar concept and did not give a definition, you can put a bright icon next to it to deal with the new term later.

Benefits of the Index method

  • on the one hand, it is self-sufficient; with its help, you can schematically decompose the entire lecture or paragraph from the textbook;
  • On the other hand, it perfectly complements the usual notes.

To work effectively with this method, make a list of the icons you will be using. For example, a square – learn by heart, a circle – read in a textbook, a question mark – check with the teacher, etc.

Write down the accepted signs on the front of your notebook, even if you remember them well. Then, practice using indexes in-class lessons, so you don’t get confused.

#3 Cornell method – for large amounts of information

College Note Taking along with smartphone and laptop
College Note Taking along with smartphone and laptop

This is one of the most common note taking tips for college. Take a larger sheet, preferably A4 or college rule, and, leaving free space above and below, divide it into two parts with a vertical line (narrower on the left, more expansive on the right).

Cornell Method Structure

At the top, write the title: the date of the lecture, the subject, the lecturer’s name, and the main topic.

On the right, write down the main theses of the lecture. On the left, write down additional information for each theory: dates, names, formulas, etc.

At the end of the class, or better yet, sometime later, such as the next day, you go back to the “raw” lecture notes and write a brief summary of the entire lecture in the remaining bottom free field.

This is how a professor at Cornell University recommended that his students write down lecture notes in the middle of the 20th century, hence the Cornell method. As practice shows, it helps to identify and write the most critical information and quickly memorize it since the student then returns to what was written, analyzes, and improves.

Take A Free Class on College NoteTaking Strategies From Cornell University

Going through the university’s Canvas note-taking curriculum is the ideal method to analyze your existing note-taking skills and learn about the Cornell note-taking system. Click here to access the program, which will walk you through the process of using Cornell Notes in an interactive manner. This module is freely available to the public.

#4 Mental maps – hard to learn, easy to pass an exam

mental maps for college note taking

You write down the main idea in the center of the sheet, and from it (or, conversely, to it) with arrows, as in a game quest, write the following:

  • dates from the oldest to the one you are looking for;
  • cause and effect relationships;
  • your thoughts on the matter;
  • brief explanations, opinions of different experts, etc.

This way of taking notes seems complicated. However, it is a great method how to take notes in college lectures. The key idea is in the center, and branches of thought and explanations stretch from it. But once you start, it turns out to be simple, understandable, and very useful. Mind maps help you quickly understand a long, confusing lecture oversaturated with theory.

The disadvantage of the Mental Map college note-taking method is that some professors require more traditional notes, long notes during lectures, and reading textbooks. But nothing prevents you from making mental maps just for yourself, like cheat sheets.

Final Thoughts on College Note-Taking Methods

Of course, the listed college note-taking methods are not the only possible ones. But they are the most versatile. Suitable for most subjects. They help to structure and assimilate almost any information. And for the best result – mastering the material, successful preparation for a seminar, test, or exam.

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