You can see that there is scarcely an observable fact unworthy of mention in your notes, and yet you could easily spend more time scribbling than watching, and that would defeat the purpose. So be selective, don’t be compulsive, and enjoy your note-taking.

Robert Pile

We forget things easily. For example, do you remember everything you studied last year? We are not able to remember everything we learn due to the limitation of our brains.

According to research, the students may forget 50% of the lecture within 24 hours, 80% in two weeks, and 95% within one month if they do not take notes. In this case, not taking plays a crucial role in exam preparation.

Not taking serves two functions: process and product. Both these functions boost achievement. While not taking students focuses actively on instruction.

Taking notes is a very effective study material for students. Because it allows more time for meaningfully processing when students read their notes, they easily remember topics studied in the lecture.

Some students get a bad mark even if they try to take notes. This situation is due to students’ incomplete notes. For notes to be effective, they must be complete.

Incomplete notes are like an incomplete address. According to some studies, average students take notes for just one-third of the lesson’s essential parts. In this case, failure is inevitable.

Students sometimes record information inaccurately. Inaccurate notes occur while copying diagrams and numerical data. Incorrect notes cause misconceptions and misunderstandings.

Revise your notes to make them accurate. You can ask your friends to revise your notes together. In this way, you can share recorded ideas and make revisions together. Two heads are better than one.

Benefits of Note-Taking

  • Note-taking has benefits – such as thinking, arrangement, recalling, and learning, for instance.
  • Taking notes and reorganizing information prevent forgetting, make the topics more memorable, and provides excellent convenience for studying later.
  • Note-taking will allow you to concentrate on lessons and aksi enable you to associate your ideas about the lesson and help you identify your questions.
  • Increases self-confidence before the exam, and reduces exam anxiety because you will feel that you are ready for the exam.
  • By note-taking, you can identify which parts are more important. Hence, note-taking saves your time.
  • Note-taking promotes active learning and active participation. By taking effective notes, students are actively involved in the learning process. Thus, it Improves focus and attention.
  • It helps you to actively focus on what is being taught and transfer the information you understand in the paper, as well.


What do you use for not taking? Mobile’s, recorder, computer, etc.  According to several studies, laptops are less effective than paper. Therefore, educators suggest you use pen and paper, which is the best tool for note-taking.

In this chapter, we are going to learn four different types of not-taking techniques. You decide which technique is best for you. Everyone learns slightly in different ways.

1. The Outline Note Taking Method

 The Outline method is one of the most popular note-taking methods for students. It is one of the easiest ways to take notes.

This method is best for students who like simplicity.  It helps you organize your notes in a structured form, resulting in saving a lot of time for further reviewing and editing.

This method requires you to structure your notes in the form of an outline by using bullet points. The goal is to represent different concepts and sub-concepts.

Write the main concept farthest to the left of the page. And then add related concepts, subtopics to the right.

While you are taking notes, leave enough space on each page to add more sub-concepts later. An example is given below.

Example of Outline Note Taking Method

Example of Outline Note Taking Method

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Outline Note Taking Method


  • Highlights the key points of the lecture
  • Helps to practice critical thinking skills
  • Reduces the reviewing and editing time.
  • Has a proper and clean structure
  • Not appropriate subjects like chemistry and math that comprises formulas
  • It doesn’t work if the lecture doesn’t follow a particular structure.



2. The Cornell Note-Taking Method

The Cornell note-taking technique was developed in 1949 by Walter Pauk to increase Cornell University students’ success in reading and listening comprehension.

This note-taking system provides students with a way to engage in a “completely natural learning cycle” using the same document. The learning cycle begins when a note-taker formats a document into three unequal sections.

First, the note-taker draws a vertical line on the left side of the document about 6 cm from the edge and stops about 5 cm from the bottom; this line creates a cue column section.

Next, the note-taker draws a horizontal line across the document’s width about 5 cm from the bottom; this section is called the summary section.

The two perpendicular lines leave the note-taker with a large section used for taking notes. (Evans, Bradley & Shively, Chris. 2019).

The notes section is for the notes you take during instruction in the classroom. You can structure them as you like. Most people prefer to use the outline method. You can write the cues section either during or after the instruction.

Fill this section with main points, people, or potential test questions. Use this section to give yourself cues to help you remember larger ideas. 

Write the summary section after class or when you are reviewing your notes. Use this section to summarize the entire lecture. An example of the Cornell method is given below.


Example of Cornell Note Taking Method

The Student Responds to the Cornell Note-Taking Method.

In a study conducted by Bradley P. Evans and Chris T. Shively, it has been observed that students have positive perceptions of using the Cornell method. Some students’ comments are mentioned below.

  1. The summary portion of the Cornell Note Taking technique helped me reflect. It also gave me a clear overview of what I learned.
  2. I really liked the digital Cornell strategy; it was one of my first times using it (I was an

exec), and I think it worked quite well. It was efficient as it was done digitally, while still

making me stop and look back at the notes taken to create questions, a summary, etc. I

think I will be using the digital Cornell note-taking method in the future.

  1. Cornell notes can help review notes several times.
  2. If we could find a note-taking strategy that is more engaging, it would be better. However, Cornell notes give you multiple chances to review your notes, and that’s a positive.
  3. Cornell notes can help review notes several times.


Advantages and Disadvantages of the Cornell Note-Taking Method.

  • It is a quicker way to take a review and organize your notes.
  • Systematically summarizes all the information.
  • It enables you to absorb information in a shorter time.
  • It helps you to extract the main ideas.


  • Pages need to be prepared before a lecture.
  • It requires some time to review and summarize the key concepts.



3. The Concept Mapping Note-Taking Method

Concept Map is a graphical tool that organizes, connects, and synthesizes information. It shows concepts in circles or boxes, and one can indicate relationships between concepts by connecting lines or linking words.

Concept maps were developed based on Ausubels’ theory of meaningful learning. According to Ausubel, learning is meaningful when the student comprehends what is being learned to other knowledge.

When we imbibed the information completely, then we can remember it better. Therefore, meaningful learning is necessary for successful learning.

The atom concept map

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Concept Mapping Method


  •  Visually attractive.
  •  It can be used in a concise form.
  •  It allows for creativity.

  •  While mapping your notes, you might run out of space on a single page.
  • It can be confusing if the concepts are misplaced.

4. The Charting Method

The charting method is an ideal method for notes that involves a lot of information in the form of facts and statistics.

The information will be organized in several columns, like a table or spreadsheet. Each column represents a unique category that makes the rows easily comparable.

This method is one of the most effective note-taking methods for heavy content, including statistics (data) and other information.

It also saves time; you spend on editing and reviewing during test time. We suggest using this method when you need to memorize a lot of information. An example is given below.


Advantages and Disadvantages of the Charting Method


  • Information is clearly structured.
  • Fantastic for relieving.
  • Notes are easily comparable.
  • A lot of information can be memorized quickly.

  • Time-consuming method.
  • It doesn’t work for information that can’t be organized easily.




Suggestions for a Good Note-Taking

  • Use color pencils because colors make human minds work better and faster.
  • Focus on oral lesson cues. If your instructors are saying, “This point is noteworthy, imperative, absolutely critical, likely to be on the test.” note it down.
  • Review your notes within 24 hours after your lecture, as well.
  • Take notes in your own words. Paraphrase what you hear. It helps you to understand and remember what you hear.
  • Use symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms for note-taking.  Abbreviations save time while reading and makes your notes more meaningful—some sample abbreviations are given below.



  1. Colliot, Tiphaine & Kiewra, Kenneth & Lu, Junrong. (2018). Note This: How to Improve Student Note Taking.
  2. Novak, J. D. & Canas, A. J, The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them, Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01 Rev 01-2008, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, 2008,
  3. Lundin, E. “How to Take Better Notes: The 6 Best Note-Taking Systems.” COLLEGE INFOGEEK, 8 January 2020,
  4. GoodNotes, “The Best Note-Taking Methods For college students & serious note-takers.” Medium, 9 may 2018,
  5. “Techniques and Tips for Listening and Note Taking.” UNSW Sydney NSW 2052 Australia, 23 December 2019,


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