The Ultimate Tips Sheet on How to Take Notes in College

It goes without saying that taking notes in class is an activity every A+ student must carry out. However, the question is: do you take notes by writing down everything your professor says, or is there a better technique? On the other hand, is it only when your professor writes something on the board that you should take notes? Practicing good note-taking habits in class is a good skill that yields great results, which you will see in your GPA.

Why do we take notes?

What is the importance of taking notes, and how does it help your results eventually? For one, taking notes keeps you awake in class, forcing you to keep your attention glued to the lecturer. If you find yourself drifting while reading a textbook, try taking notes; you will find yourself maintaining focus. Additionally, studies show that active engagement with a topic by listening and summarizing what you hear helps you retain what you’ve learned.

Also, even though you were physically present in class and paid rapt attention, you may not remember everything said later. By taking notes, you keep a record of what you learned in class and what you should review later. Generally, taking notes is a skill that will pay off in college and later in life in the business world.

Great tips on how to take effective notes in college

It is one thing to take note of what your lecturer is saying and another to be able to use them later. Below are some popular and highly effective techniques on how to take notes in college – and effectively.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the topic before class

Before heading to your next class, ensure you have read or skimmed through pre-assigned reading from your lecturer. Even if there is no assigned reading, you can do some research on your own and familiarize yourself with the topic. Additionally, remember to pack everything you need to learn effectively; these include a bottle of water and maybe some snacks.

  1. Don’t be a back-bencher

If you love sitting at the back in class, you are not alone; most college students do. However, if you want to learn how to take notes fast, you might need to eliminate the front-seat aversion. To take better notes, positioning is important; sitting at the front helps you stay attentive.

  1. Choose the right format

There are different note-taking formats in college; choose the one you are most comfortable with. For instance, you can either take notes using paper, pencil, or pen, or you can type the notes. Some people prefer digital, especially when they can type faster than they can write. The goal is to choose a note-taking system that matches your approach to learning, works for you, and aligns with your classes.

  1. Keep them short

It is normal to want to jot down everything your lecturer is saying, but you’ll get tired quickly that way. If you’re taking notes digitally, you might be able to capture everything, especially if you’re a fast typist. However, the goal of note taking is defeated when you write down everything your professor is saying. The best thing is to summarize what you hear, focus on new information, and what seems to be the most important.

  1. Be neat

If you’re taking notes with pencil and paper, ensure you can read what you’re writing down. If writing leaves you unable to read your notes later easily, you might need to switch to other forms of note taking. In other words, write as neatly as possible; this way, you won’t spend half your study time decoding yourself.

  1. Maximize spaces

When taking notes, how you use the space available is important. You must use space meaningfully, keeping the key points larger than the rest. Another way to maximize space is by highlighting key terms, so pay attention to them when you’re studying later.

Meanwhile, abbreviations are made for note-taking; whether you’re writing or typing, learn to abbreviate to save time and space. Using abbreviations is one of the fastest ways to take notes; you can capture information when you abbreviate.


Note taking is undoubtedly a profitable venture every A+ student should embark upon. However, learning how to take notes faster and more effectively is the important thing. With these tips, you can start taking more effective notes in your classes – and fast.


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