Free «Note-Taking» Essay Sample

Despite understanding the material accurately and precisely, it is almost impossible to remember a huge amount of information over several weeks or months. According to the estimations of scientists, the majority of students forget more than 50 percent of information within a day. Moreover, approximately 80 percent of important information can be erased from memory in less than two weeks (Friedman 4). This problem can be easily solved with the help of effective note-taking strategies. The phenomenon of note-taking is referred to as a practice of recording information from various sources. With the help of note-taking, a person writes down the so-called “root” of the information.

The purpose of the research paper is to analyze the concept of note-taking since this is an effective method characterized by a vast number of benefits. It is important to note than the strategy of note-taking has become an integral part of human development since the establishment of writing. The practice of note-taking is based on a large number of mental functions and other cognitive processes. First of all, people are required to reinterpret and filter various sources of information. Secondly, they should restructure and reorganize obtained sources of information. Thirdly, listeners have to write down their personal reinterpretation of a message quickly and accurately (Friedman 4).

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Role of Note-Taking in Studying

The practice of note-taking proves its significance in the process of studying. In the majority of cases, a huge amount of information provided by lecturers and instructors is extremely confusing and excessive. Moreover, it is important to note that in many cases students find it difficult to differentiate the information of the primary importance from additional or unnecessary data (Friedman 5). And, effective note-taking strategies can help make the process of perceiving and processing information easier. In the process of preparing for exams or carrying out home assignments, students may find it too difficult to write extensive notes. It is considered to be time-consuming, tiresome, boring, and absolutely ineffective. That’s why it’s necessary to master the art of quick and good note-taking.

Taking good notes is an essential skill for academic success. It enables students to capture important information during class and helps them review and understand the material better later on. Good note-taking can enhance one’s ability to retain, comprehend, and apply knowledge, making it a critical component of the learning process.

The process of note-taking is considered to be an indispensable and efficient activity for a vast number of reasons:

In-class Advantages

Post-class Advantages

  • First of all, this academic activity stimulates concentration. It develops the ability to recall something and helps a person be well-organized and attentive. In such a way, note-taking makes students feel more focused on the subject area.
  • Secondly, this activity helps people remember what they have read or heard in the audience. It has been proved by scientists that people work more productively and, consequently, learn more efficiently when they make use of multiple senses and other brain functions. In the process of taking notes, students subconsciously paraphrase the lecture and adapt it to personal “level” of strengths and knowledge. In other words, they transform the lecture into a format that is easier, shorter, more precise, and deprived of redundant words and phrases.
  • Thirdly, note-taking helps individuals structure personal opinions more precisely and accurately.
  • Fourthly, lecture notes serve as an outline of the basic ideas and thoughts from the lecture. Besides, these notes can be used with the purpose to clarify and define more accurately not fully understandable and ambiguous ideas from the textbook or lecture. In other words, the notes of lectures can be used as a so-called gauge of what is the most important and worth reading.
  • Notes act as a personal textbook that can be reviewed to reinforce learning and retention.
  • Organized notes streamline studying, making it easier to prepare for exams and complete assignments.
  • Notes help integrate new information with existing knowledge, fostering a comprehensive understanding.
  • Reviewing notes can clarify uncertainties or questions that arise after the class. Lecture notes together with notes from a textbook can function as perfect review materials.
  • Good notes provide a summary of the lecture, focusing on key points and essential details.
  • The act of note-taking aids in memory recall, especially when reviewed periodically.
  • Notes can be tailored to individual learning styles, making them more effective than generic study guides.
  • Effective note-taking allows students to draw connections between concepts, which is crucial for higher-level thinking and problem-solving.
  • The process of taking and reviewing notes keeps students actively engaged with the material outside of class time.

These advantages underscore the importance of taking good notes and how they can be a significant asset in a student’s academic toolkit.

Hints on How to Take Good Notes during Class

To take good notes, students should come prepared to class with all necessary materials. They should be attentive and ready to identify which information to write down. It’s important to develop a system that works personally for them, whether it’s a structured outline, a concept map, or another method.

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In order to obtain the qualities and skills of an effective note-taker, each person has to explore several strategies of note-taking applied before, during, and even after the lecture.

  • Preparing to Take Good Notes during Class

Preparation involves reviewing previous notes and readings to anticipate the topics that will be covered. Additionally, before the lecture a person is recommended to skim or read the text. This will provide the listeners with an opportunity to receive a general overview of the most important facts, thoughts, and ideas. Before the lecture, students are advised to determine and distinguish the material that sounds too complicated and unclear (Boch and Piolat 106). This pre-class work can help students better understand the lecture and take more effective notes.

  • Note-taking in Class

While taking notes in class, students should focus on capturing the main points and supporting details. It’s helpful to use shorthand and symbols to keep up with the pace of the lecture. Besides, in the course of the lecture, each person will be able to differentiate important information from irrelevant. During the lecture, a student is recommended to use a textbook in order to make the notes more precise and clear. While attending the lecture, a so-called note-taker should pay attention to unfamiliar concepts and terms. However, students may also review unknown or vague definitions before the lecture in order to reduce or minimize confusion when the lecturer explains the meaning of these terms.

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Here are some more rules and recommendations that enhance the effectiveness of note-taking during the lectures:

  • First of all, students should start every new lecture on a separate page.
  • Besides, they are advised to write the notes on one side of the paper as it will ensure greater legibility and, consequently, will provide more freedom in the process of organizing notes.
  • Besides, all notes should be dated and numbered.
  • Blank spaces and indentions are welcomed with the purpose of differentiating major and minor ideas and thoughts.
  • Finally, students may use margins in order to designate questions and commentaries (Boch and Piolat 110).

After the lecture a student is recommended to look through the notes as soon as possible. Missing and vague information should be added and cleared up with the help of a textbook or under the control of a lecturer or classmates. Information from the lecture should be paraphrased and summarized in own words.

  • Identifying Which Information to Write Down

Students should write down facts, figures, and statements that the instructor emphasizes. This selective approach ensures that the notes are clear and accurate, capturing the essence of the lecture without becoming overwhelming. It’s also beneficial to note down questions and areas of confusion to follow up on later. Effective notes should not only reflect what is deemed important by the instructor but also what resonates with the student’s understanding. If a particular point or concept sparks a question or seems unclear, noting this down for later review is beneficial. This practice ties into the broader concept of writing and learning, where the act of taking notes is not just a method of recording information but also a means of engaging with the material on a deeper level.

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These are helpful note-taking strategies which students should pay attention to cope with the amount of information provided.

Handwritten vs Digital Notes

The choice between handwritten and digital notes is a significant one, as it can influence the effectiveness of writing and learning. Handwritten notes are often praised for their role in facilitating memory retention. The physical act of writing can create a stronger cognitive connection to the material, making it easier to recall later. On the other hand, digital notes offer a level of convenience and organization that handwritten notes cannot match. They are clear and accurate, easily edited, and can be searched quickly for specific information.

When making notes, students should consider their personal learning preferences and the demands of their coursework. Some may find that the tactile experience of handwriting aids their learning process, while others may prioritize the efficiency and accessibility of digital notes.

Below is a table outlining the advantages of both handwritten and digital notes:

Handwritten Notes Digital Notes
Enhance memory retention through the physical act of writing Offer quick organization and reorganization of notes
Encourage slower processing, which can aid in understanding Allow for fast, typewritten entries, which can keep pace with lectures
Provide a distraction-free alternative to digital devices Enable easy sharing and collaboration with peers
Can be personalized with drawings and marginalia Feature search functionality for quick reference
Foster a unique connection with the material Support multimedia integration, such as images and links

Ultimately, the best method is one that complements an individual’s study habits and helps them to take effective notes. Whether students choose pen and paper or a digital device, the goal remains the same: to create a useful resource for learning and academic success.

This expanded discussion should help clarify the benefits of each note-taking method and assist students in making an informed decision that aligns with their learning style and academic needs.

Helpful Note-Taking Strategies

Having reviewed and analyzed the notion of note-taking and the importance of this academic activity, the information concerning the strategies and methods of effective note-taking should be taken into consideration (Friedman 6). At present, there are numerous ways to take notes, including the Cornell Method, the Outlining Strategy, and the Mapping Method. In addition, some researchers differentiate the Charting Strategy and the Sentence Strategy (Friedman 11).

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Below, there is a table describing of the effective methods for taking good notes:

The Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is based on the idea of two different columns. One of the columns contains the list of keywords and concepts. The other one includes information about the keywords and phenomena. As a rule, this method is used by students while listening to the lecturer. At the bottom of every page students are recommended to summarize important information written in notes. The Cornell Method is considered to have numerous advantages as it is uncomplicated, effective, and well-organized. Furthermore, it saves much time as well as efforts (Jacobs 119).

The Outlining Strategy

The Outlining Strategy is based on writing a number of topics and subtopics. This strategy of note-taking is characterized by a well-thought structure and clear organization. The method of mapping involves the application of comprehension and concentration skills. This method enhances active participation and develops critical thinking.

The Charting Method

The Charting Method implies that a student divides a piece of paper into separate columns with appropriate subheadings. According to this method of note-taking, important information should be inserted into the appropriate category. The Charting Method helps distinguish the most relevant pieces of information. In addition, this method minimizes the amount of unnecessary information.

The Sequence Method

The Sequence Method writes down every new thought, fact, and topic. This method is effective while the notes are well-organized and at the same time include the most important information (DeZure, Kaplan, and Deerman 2).


Mapping is considered to be one of the most helpful and effective ways that may be used for determining and differentiating between major and secondary points and ideas (Boch and Piolat 110).

Being aware of the peculiarities of these helpful note-taking strategies, it will be easier for students to decide which one to apply in each specific situation.

Basic Tips for Taking Good Notes

Some basic tips for taking good notes include staying organized, using abbreviations, reviewing notes soon after class, etc. It’s also important to highlight or underline key points for easy reference. Have a look at the following tips:

  • Stay Organized: Keeping your notes organized is crucial for good note-taking. It helps ensure that the information is clear and accurate, making it easier to review and study later.
  • Use Abbreviations: Developing a system of abbreviations can speed up the process of taking notes, allowing you to capture more information as it is presented.
  • Review Notes Promptly: One of the keys to writing and learning effectively is to review your notes soon after class. This helps to reinforce the material and better understand the concepts covered.
  • Highlight Key Points: To take good notes, it’s important to highlight or underline key points during the lecture. This makes it easier to identify the most important information at a glance.
  • Underline for Emphasis: Along with highlighting, underlining significant details can draw attention to them, aiding in the recall of essential facts and ideas.
  • Take Good Notes Consistently: Consistency in taking good notes is vital. It ensures that you have a reliable set of information to refer to throughout your course.
  • Effective Notes Are Concise: Good note-taking means that your notes should be concise and to the point. Effective notes capture the essence of the lecture without extraneous details.
  • Practice Good Note-Taking: Like any skill, good note-taking improves with practice. The more you work on taking notes, the better you will become at identifying what information is most valuable.

These tips are designed to help you take good notes that will be an invaluable resource for your academic success. Remember, effective note-taking is a skill that will serve you well beyond your years in education.

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As a result, efficient note-taking is considered to be an essential skill for studying at university. Effective note-taking may help each person concentrate, differentiate important information from irrelevant, process information, listen, paraphrase, and clarify unknown material. Students are recommended to organize their notes with the help of various tables, mind maps, summaries, and diagrams. Well-structured and clear notes are necessary for the processes of learning and personal development.

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