Tips for Note Taking and Studying

The workload in college was definitely something that took some time for me to adjust to. Considering, in high school, I made A’s without ever opening my backpack while at home. Homework was mostly done 10 minutes before the tardy bell rang; yet I would still get a 100. So, as you can imagine, when I got to college there were a few habits that needed to change. I had to teach myself how to study effectively and manage my time more wisely. So, I have gathered a list of tips and advice that I use to make it easier to take notes, be productive in class, and study for my classes.

Keep up with your planner:

Write everything down here: assignments, readings, work, meetings, etc. Everything should be in one place for a quick reference. I also use mine as a checklist. I rely my planner; it keeps me organized and prevents me from forgetting all the due dates i have to keep track of. There are many different kinds of planners: big, small, simple, detailed. If you’re looking for a new planner, I got mine at target. They always have a good selection!

Don’t waste time writing everything down:

Now, good notes do not always equal a lot of notes. I’ve learned that the more you process the information as you write, the more likely you will remember it. Try putting what the professor is saying into your own words rather than writing everything verbatim.


Also, if you are a visual learner, color-coding your notes might help you see the information better. Have definitions in one color and important dates in another helps the eyes easily decipher what is important. It’s all about figuring out what works for you.

Record the lectures:

If the professor allows it, record their lectures on your phone. That way, if you miss any important information you can leave space in your notes and fill it in later. I find this helps with professors who, either speak fast, or teach without any visual aids.

Power Point slides save lives:

img_7435If a professor is kind enough to post their lecture slides, print them out before class. I like to print them out where there are about 6 slides on each page and take notes within the slides and in the margins. Warning: If messy notes bother you, this might not be your favorite tip.

Utilize the review:

Take the review your professor gives you. Take every question one by one. Write everything you know about that topic. Go through your notes, textbooks, and recordings. I like to type out the reviews first, because I can type faster than I write. Once I’ve turned a two-page review into a ten-page review, I print it out. I highlight key details, such as names, dates, and titles. This helps really drill the information into my brain.

Don’t just memorize:

Stating that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell will not do you any good if you don’t understand what it means. For example, in my history courses, I need to understand the facts as one big story that interconnects, rather than simply knowing what year matches to a certain event. This is especially necessary when the tests are short answer or essay based, instead of multiple choice.


This is one of the most classic forms of studying. And for a good reason. Not only does this require you to write it down a second time from your notes, but also it is easy to take with you anywhere. You can pull them out while waiting in line or walking to class. I find this method most helpful when you know the test will be more definition driven.



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