Note-Taking Tips

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Remember it is important to take breaks when studying. Brain Breaks” have been shown to increase retention and student achievement.

There are many different strategies for student note-taking. While some students like the old fashion note-cards, others like web-based tools like Evernote, OneNote, Notability, google docs, and spreadsheets. However, some of the easiest methods to use are still paper and pen – find something that works for you.

Here are some simple rules to remember:

1.) record only the important points – keep notes SIMPLE

2.) don’t highlight/underline, or take notes, until you read through the information once     Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 10.47.26 PM

3.) put notes in your own words, this will help you remember them

4.) don’t write down things you don’t understand (ask for clarification later)

5.) separate your notes for each class & make sure you can read your notes

7.) make a few symbols that are meaningful to you & save time: 

= (equal), eg (example), $, &, < (less), > (more), w/ (with), w/o (without), def (definition), ? (unclear, ask), * (main point) 

Highlighting and Underlining 

You can use different coloured highlighters for different kinds of information, but don’t overdo it because it will become confusing. Also, don’t underline or highlight too much information.

Highlight or Underline:

  • headings
  • subheadings
  • special terms
  • useful statistics
  • key words or phrases
  • A really important paragraph should be summarized in your own words before you write notes. This will help with retention.

The UBC Learning Commons has a great page on note-taking (including a brief video tutorial). This site also illustrates the 4 main styles of note-taking: mind-mapping, outline, t-method, Cornell) 


UBC Learning Commons: Student Tool Kit