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Effective Note-Taking Strategies

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Note taking is often an underappreciated skill that can really make the difference when it comes time to study for a test or an exam but isn’t really taught in school. Below you will find some tips on how to improve your note taking.


It can help to develop a system of abbreviations and symbols that replace certain words; this will decrease the length of your notes and can also help with note taking during class. You don’t need to rewrite the whole book in order to have a good set of notes!

Notes always need improvement

Leave some room in the margins for additional thoughts or questions. When you are studying, you will often make connections that aren’t obvious when you’re actually making the notes and these connections will help reinforce the topics that you are covering which will lead to a higher level of understanding.

Take the time to understand what you’re readingGirl reading at the library

Always write notes out in your own words. If you’re going to just copy what your teacher/the book says word for word then you won’t retain much information about the concept. This may also affect your ability to process thought/ application questions which require a deeper understanding of the concepts.

Focus in on the essential material

Try to key in on concepts, formulas, facts and other bits of information that are repeated more than once as that is more likely to be valuable information. Textbooks also help students out by having these ideas either in bold lettering or in a different colour to draw your attention to it, so that’s always a good place to start!

Think outside the box

There isn’t one universal style for taking notes, you may have to experiment with a variety of methods before you find something that works for you.

If you are a visual learner, then it can help to color coordinate your notes so that you associate a certain topic with a color which may help you retain that information better, or it may just be better to have a thought web where you start with a central idea and branch out from there.

SchoolTutoring Academy is the premier educational services company for K-12 and college students. We offer tutoring programs for students in K-12, AP classes, and college. To learn more about how we help parents and students in Spokane, WA visit: Tutoring in Spokane, WA.

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