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Studying at University

Note Taking at University

Depending on your assignment or study activity at University different methods of Note Taking are useful to know about.

Taking notes in class? Try the Cornell method.

Taking notes from your research? Check out Note taking: Things you need to know... 

Taking notes on journal articles? Try the Taking notes from Journals doc.

Taking notes for exams? Try Mind Mapping or Blurting.

Annotated Bibliography? Check out our guide for that!

Different learning styles can support your note taking and revision technicques. Want to know more? Check out the Learning Styles guide.

Note taking: Things you need to know...

To get the most from your lectures you should be actively listening and participating. Taking notes can help you to remember information and make sense of it. 

Good note taking in lectures involves: 

  1. Concentrating and actively listening in order to be able to identify the most important information.
  2. Being organised - be on time and ready to begin, in order to note down any introductory information (such as lecture aims and objectives, or insight as to how it relates your assessments).
  3. Summarising key points in your own words to avoid plagiarism and process the information.
  4. Variety – try highlighting, underlining, drawing or adding diagrams to your notes.  Identify the methods that work best for you.  
  5. Decision-making - during a lecture you will have to decide what to record: you will not be able to note down everything.  Preparation here is key, and will help you to identify crucial and supplementary information, rather than focusing on reproducing information you already have in your notes or in notes on Blackboard. 

Good note taking from texts involves...

  1. Being clear about what you want to achieve. What information do you need? What notes do you need to take?  Are you trying to answer specific questions?
  2. Using a note system to suit your individual learning.  Experiment with colour-coding, post-its, lists, mind-maps and pictures as well as traditional notes and bullet points.  
  3. Using your own words - skim read the text to find relevant key words, then make notes in your own words (rather than copy out huge chunks of text).  
  4. Recording all referencing information, including whether you have paraphrased or quoted directly.  It is quite frustrating to identify information or a theory in your notes that you would like to discuss in an essay, and find that you do not have the necessary referencing information to be able to do so.
  5. Asking critical questions as you read and make notes, making connections with your prior learning.  Identify key points and issues for further research/consideration.  

General Resources

Cornell Note taking method

The Cornell method of note taking is useful in lectures to capture the essence of the lesson and to support studying at later dates.