Categories: College Life

15 Note-Taking Tricks That Will Make Studying Easy

When it comes to note-taking, information from fast-paced lectures and giant text books quickly become overwhelming. Having note-taking tricks under your belt will better prepare you for your next class and test. Note-taking tricks make studying so much easier and you will feel more organized in your class. These skills are highly recommended for college and high school courses to best prepare for academic success!

1)Prepare Before Class

Before your class or lecture, it’s important to take a look at any materials that your professor has given you. Some professors share their powerpoint or notes before their class. Take advantage of having notes before class by reading over the content and highlighting and underlining important information. If you have a question on a point in the reading, write it down on a sticky note. By the end of class, make sure you have your questions answered.

2) Headlines

When you’re taking notes in class, it’s a good idea to group your notes into major topics. Usually, a note-taking trick is that professors already have grouped their content into sub-topics. You can find these when a professor transitions to a new slide or a new topic of conversation. It’s helpful to distinguish the headlines from your other notes by making the headline a different color or font size.

3) Colors

Let’s actually talk about the importance of color in your notes! A great note-taking trick is to utilize the power of color in your studying. While it may be a little extra work to switch pen colors while taking notes, it is so important in the long run because colors categorize topics in your brain when your studying. This is a visual element in your notes that will help you studying later.

4) Messy Class Notes

Okay, we totally get that professors lectures usually are fast-paced. Your first set of notes can be messy! The most important part of note-taking is making sure you actually record all of the information that you need to know. When you’re writing your first round of notes in class, make sure you get down the information. It helps if you some up the information that you learned in your own words while you write it down. It’s much harder to transcribe professors verbatim.

5) Rewrite Notes

This is the important trick to good notes for studying. After class, or on the same day you learned the material, rewrite your messy class notes. In your rewritten notes, be sure to keep it very neat and organized. You’ll find that this is helpful for understanding what you’ve just learned and to organize the information in a way that makes sense to you. This is honestly also very therapeutic.

6) Box Categories

Boxing certain topics and concepts into categories is extremely helpful in note-taking. This makes sure you see topics as an individual idea and that you fully understand that specific box. Boxed categories are also very easy to find when you are studying and flipping through your notes. I find myself boxing ideas and concepts that I often have to refer back to.

7) Examples

It is extremely helpful while taking noting to write or draw you own examples about the definition or topic that you are taking notes on. This helps you make a connection while learning the material, and you are more likely to remember that idea because you contributed an example to it.

8) Your Own Voice

This note-taking trick is awesome and straight up fun. When you taking notes (whether it is in a reading or during a lecture), be sure to also take notes on your own reactions to the concepts that you are learning. So many people miss this crucial part of taking notes. The notes that you take are for you! Write down your notes and your thoughts in your own voice.  So if that woman in history you’re learning about is a total bad ass, be sure to write it down that she is! Your notes are only for the benefit of you so you might as well make them entertaining!

9) Draw Pictures

You don’t have to be a fantastic artist to have drawings in your notes. A lot of times drawings in your notes add to your notes of what you are trying to explain. When you make a drawing, label the drawing so when you go back to study, you are able to have a visual example to learn from.

10) Distinguish Key Words

No matter what you are taking notes on, there are always key words that you need to be aware of when you’re studying. Whether it’s key nouns, concepts, or vocabulary, you’ll want to have them distinguished from the other parts of your notes. One way that you can do this is by bolding, underlining, and writing the words in a different color. This way you will know when you’re studying that you must know this word in order to succeed in the course.

11) Concept Mapping

Time to use some arrows! If you have a central topic, one way to organize your notes around the topic is through concept mapping. This is where you write your main topic in the center of your page and then you draw arrows to sub-topics that all have to do with the centralized topic. This is a way that many people think and it is a great note-taking trick to visually represent how to organize concepts in your head.

See Also

12) Date

Always make sure to date your notes in the beginning of your class. This is really important for studying purposes because you will be able to match your notes to the concepts that you had learned on that day. It is also an important way to keep you notes neat and organized. Also, you can notice if you missed a day of class or not through the date that you write on your papers.

13) Consistency

Make sure that the way you take and organize your notes stays consistent. This is so important because you will know how to study from them and what to expect every time you go to take notes and study. Establish a system early on in the class.

14) Stars

Star the concepts that you need to know for an exam or for the class. Often times professors leave hints during their lectures of what questions and ideas that will be on their tests. Establish a symbol that indicates to you while you’re studying that you need to master that concept (stars are recommended because they rock).

15) Tape!

Tape in any print outs, pictures, or sticky-notes that will help you better understand your notes. Get creative with it 🙂


Using these note-taking tricks will make studying totally more bearable. Do you have any more note-taking tricks that you use? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image source:
Julia Bergquist

Julia grew up in a town just outside of Chicago. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee where she is a junior Creative Writing and Literature major at Rhodes College. Julia prefers to spend her days outside writing stories for others to find joy in. Other than story-telling, you will find Julia running on her college track and field team and traveling the world.

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