Resource Outreach: Top Ten Tips for Taking Notes – 1/28/19


1. Note Taking Improves Student Learning.

Note taking is shown to improve student learning from reading (Rahmani & Sadeghi, 2011; Chang & Ku, 2014) and lecture (Kiewra, 2002).

2. Take More Notes.

The number of notes you take is directly correlated with how much information you retain (Nye, Crooks, Powley, & Tripp, 1984). Caution: this does NOT mean writing more words. Take bullet point notes of critical information.

3. Take Quality Notes.

Learn effective note taking strategies. (Boyle, 2013; Rahmani & Sadeghi, 2011; Robin, Foxx, Martello, & Archable, 1977). I like the method Mrs. Zimmerman taught to me. Note Taking for Studying Success. Research shows brief notes (bullet points), and MANY of them increase retention and test scores. Connect the dots and rewrite notes in categories.

4. Visualize and Represent Notes in Visual Form.

As you read or listen, visualize. This will get you out of the habit of memorizing factoids and into the habit of making connections, which will significantly increase your ability to learn and remember (Wammes, Meade, & Fernandes, 2016).

5. Do NOT “Brain Plagiarize.”

If you are simply writing what the teacher says, you are passively learning. I call this brain plagiary. While it will not merit a visit to Mrs. Cost, you have cheated your brain. Revise your notes in your own words and graphics. Collaboratively take notes using a shared Google document. This has been shown to increase test scores. (Luo, Kiewra, & Samuelson, 2016).

6. Ask your teachers for guided notes.

This is the type of note taking where much info is provided, but blanks are given for you to actively insert information. Mrs. Pare and Mrs. Symkowick come to mind. Research shows this type of note taking SUBSTANTIALLY increases academic success (Haydon, Mancil, Kroeger, McLeskey, & Lin, 2011).

7. Use  The Leitner System. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Additional Tip: before you write anything, check and see if notes are in Biller’s Best Quizlet Library. If so, copy the set, and rewrite in your own words. Include visuals or your dictation.

8. Create a 5×7 Lined Notecard.

If you cut to the chase, this is all the room you will need for critical information on the majority of tests in high school AND in college. Show this note card to your instructor and have her/him cross out information that is not critical and add information you are missing.

9. Spacing Your Repetition is the Key to Long Term Memory.

It is critical to give your brain a chance to get information from short to long term memory. Space out your studies ( Kornell, Castel, Eich, & Bjork, 2010). I suggest three times: after breakfast, after dinner, and RIGHT BEFORE BED. Your number one God given memory strategy is to sleep – research shows studying  before sleeping or napping triggers more activity in the hippocampus, the part of your brain that forms new memories.

10. It is Better to Give than to Receive

Active learning is the way to go. When you engage your brain in giving, rather than receiving information, you create neural pathways. Overwhelming amounts of research articles have been published and books have been written on the topic ( Articles and Books about Active Learning). I suggest TEACHING because you must summarize, condense, investigate, and draw conclusions, which gives you a deeper understanding of material.

BONUS: Create Practice Tests

Now, take your notes, and generate a test. Think like your teacher. Analyze previous tests and mimic her/his style. Include an essay prompt because this challenges your brain to know more than definitions. Google tests are available online. Take these as practice – there are only so many ways to create a test of specific subject matter.

NOTE about NOTES: if you have a learning difference related to focus, reading, or writing, DO NOT TAKE WRITTEN NOTES DURING LECTURES. Actively listen and take bullet point notes in your mind. Get a peer notetaker, then utilize Tips 4 – 10.

YOU will succeed!

If you are not succeeding, see me in Room 314.

Mrs. Biller, Resource Specialist