How to Take Notes More Efficiently

Posted by Olivia on Sep 8th 2021

With the new school year kicking off, getting back into the groove of lectures and note-taking can be a tough task.

Every year, the long summer vacation has a way of turning note-taking into a distant memory. So if you find yourself struggling with deciding what to write down during class, or wishing you could take better notes, keep reading!

In this post, we are going to share our best practices on how to take notes more efficiently so that you can become a confident note-taker.

Why do good notes matter anyway?

Taking good notes in class is an essential part of your academic success. Actively taking notes during lectures has both in-class and post-class benefits.

Taking notes in class ensures you will remain focused during class, which will in turn help you better understand the material. Plus, note-taking will improve your active listening and retention of the lesson’s main concepts.

Note-taking also has post-class benefits. Quality and concise notes will save you time and energy when it comes to reviewing class material before a big exam. When you take notes more efficiently, you will also avoid the confusion that often results from disorganized or illegible notes. This is why efficient note-taking is a crucial skill for college students to have.

Now that you know why good notes are important, let’s dive into how to take notes more efficiently!

How to Take Notes More Efficiently

There is usually a lot going on in class. Catching up with classmates, discussions, and complex concepts are just a few of the things you might encounter.

What to do before class

The first step to taking notes more efficiently is to come prepared. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure you are set up for note-taking success:

  • Before you show up to class, take a glance at the text or reading assignments you will be covering in class so that you can get a better grasp of the material that will be covered during the lecture.
  • Set aside 5-10 minutes to review your previous notes so that you can situate the new ideas you will learn in class.
  • Make sure your notes are organized and are in consecutive order. It might sound simple, but be sure to title your page with the date and lesson name, and keep all of your notes from each class together in one place.

What to do during class

After completing your pre-class review, you should be ready and confident to tackle any new material. Be sure to follow these steps to take notes more efficiently during class:

  • Instead of trying to copy down everything that your professor says, it is a good idea to focus on writing down the main points of the lecture. You can always go back and fill in extra details when you review your notes after class.
  • Be sure to note down any questions or thoughts you have about the lecture so that you can follow up on them later with your professor or look for the answers in your textbook.
  • Try to jot down important names, dates, and keywords. Do not worry about writing down the details for each of them. As long as you have the main points, you can fill in the important information later.
  • Write quickly but be sure to maintain legible handwriting. Clear, concise, and organized notes are key to taking quality notes.
  • Use abbreviations and symbols to take notes more efficiently, but be sure you know what they mean.
  • Write short phrases or use bullet points to help you remember the main concepts when looking back at your notes later.

What to do after class

When class ends, one of the most important things you can do is go back and review your notes. This is essential when it comes to digesting and understanding the new material you learned.

Either immediately after class or at the end of the day, take about 20 minutes to revisit your notes. During this time, you will want to check for clarity as well as fill in any details, missing information, or key terms. Use this time to identify any concepts you might not fully understand and make a note of them so that you can ask for clarification in the next class or during office hours.

For more tips on how to take notes more efficiently, visit our blog on the top 5 ways to take notes where we reveal the best note-taking methods.

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