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Note-taking tips for College Success

by Jackie Sizing ‘21

Although there are no official rules on how exactly how to write your notes, here are some tips and tricks to help you write and use your notes effectively for class.

One key tip to taking good notes is organization. For instance, students will benefit from having a notebook and binder for each individual class, according to junior Kaitlyn Puzzo, a tutor at the Center of Academic Excellence (CAE). “If you have more than one class in one notebook, it is more likely for notes to get misplaced,” said Puzzo in her email interview. Also, an agenda notebook helps with organizing homework as well as remembering test and quiz dates.

In addition, it is important to have a plan that works for you.

Another tip is being engaged and paying attention in class and to your professor. A way to do this is sitting in the front of the classroom as it limits distractions. In addition, recording your class, especially a lecture, is helpful as you will be able to go back and see if you missed anything.

“Sometimes it’s double the amount of work, but it’s double the amount of looking at the curriculum, paying attention to the notes that are important and picking up on (things) that you may have missed the first time around,” said Jim O’Loughlin, Academic Support Specialist in the CAE.

Another tip in taking good notes and succeeding academically is the buddy system. The buddy system is connecting with somebody in the class and comparing notes. This will prevent you, again, from missing anything important as another student may have caught something you didn’t. In addition, if you are still confused about the material after class, it is important to get clarity from your professor. Seeking academic help in college is essential, according to O’Loughlin.

“The professors are willing to help the students; they want to see their students succeed. Don’t be afraid to contact your professor for help!” said Puzzo.

The final tip is making sure you review and revise your notes. Reviewing your previous notes 10 to 15 minutes before class can be beneficial, especially when connecting concepts and information. This will help when it comes to finals so you won’t have to cram for eight hours or pull an all-nighter, as the material should be in the back of your head.

“If you really want to study… take the time to get off your phone… the notes that you wrote the previous class, review them. Just look at them,” said O’Loughlin.

O’Loughlin experimented this a few semesters ago. He had a few students approach a class by reviewing notes before class and another class the normal way. The students came to find they were calmer when walking into the final for the class they reviewed the notes for.

Furthermore, for someone to succeed academically, self-care is important. College should be about exploring and learning, not stressing yourself out every week. The more on top you are with your school work, the less stressed you are going to be.

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