How To Take Better Notes in Class: 5 Proven Methods

Ashley Yakish
Published on
May 21, 2021

There are numerous note taking styles that you can choose from or to try out and create your personal note taking style. It is important to keep organized notes, especially when you're in a rigorous class like an AP or IB class. Note taking helps us organize concepts in our own unique way and lets us remember ideas easier.

In this post, we will discuss a few different styles in which you can choose from to find the style that fits you the most.

1. Cornell Notes method

What Is Cornell Note Taking System and How to Use It

The Cornell Notes method is one of the most common ways of note taking created by Prof. Walter Pauk of Cornell University in the 1950s.

It includes three sections: the cue section, note taking area, and summary area.

On the cue section, you write key words or questions that relate to the actual notes, which go into the note taking areas. In the summary section, you write a brief summary of the notes in roughly two to three sentences. This will make you select the most important concepts in that note. This way in class, you can write the notes and after the class, you fill out the cue and summary section.

2. Flow charts

Process Flow Diagrams | BPI Consulting
Source: SPC Excel

Using a flow chart allows you to connect ideas and see them visually. It can also be used to show a process such as scientific methods or classification of matter. Those who learn better visually will benefit from this style.

Additionally, it is great to use for classes such as biology or chemistry. With this method, you can keep adding information to the notes without much of a hassle.

3. Charting method

Note-taking methods | Learning Hub
Source: Learning Hub

Charting method lets you organize multiple ideas in one table. This is an excellent method when you want to compare different ideas.

It can be used for history class where you need to create a timeline to understand important people and dates for the time period you are learning. Information organized this way helps you remember easily, especially when you need to remember multiple concepts.

4. Annotating

Source: Smekens Education

Annotating is a very time efficient way of taking notes because you do not need to write the actual note. Since you only need to connect ideas or add more details, it allows you to take time to listen to the class rather than focusing on copying your notes.

This is great when your teacher provides you outlines or you have textbooks. The best thing about this method is that it can also be used with another method: annotate first in class then take notes later.

5. Outlining method

4 Note-Taking Systems To Consider - EasyBib Blog
Source: Easy Bib

  1. Outlining method lets you organize your notes in a structured form.
  2. You can expand ideas just like this to add more information
  3. By doing this, you can see what information is more important, because anything under that information is just additional information: just like this.
  4. You can make lists, just like this:
  5. Easiest method as you just need to write down notes unlike the Cornell method where you have to go over and think.
  6. Saves time
  7. Can create main topics, subtopics, subtopics for subtopics,....

5. Silver dollar method

This is an annotation method which is great when there is a lot of information that you need to review.

  1. First, you need to read through your notes and mark “S'' next to information that you think is important. By the time you finish the first step, you might have quite a bit of “S” marks.
  2. Next, read through the notes again but just the part where you marked it.
  3. Now, within the “S” marks, draw a vertical line to draw “$” to information that is particularly important.
  4. Go through this step this time but add another line to the “$”.
  5. After completing the 3 steps, you now have information ranked from the most important to least important in order.

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