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Study skills

Note-taking: How to take efficient notes

Note-taking is a process that helps you pay attention. Note-taking helps you to concentrate on the information presented in class or in the lecture or when reading and to make connections between ideas.

Tips on how to take efficient notes:

  • Set wide margins.
  • When taking notes, keep a record of all your sources.
  • If in class or a lecture, write at the top of the page, the topic, the teacher and the date.
  • If taking notes from reading material, write at the top of your notes a full citation of your source, online or hard copy. Include page numbers alongside your notes for easy retrieval of information.
  • Identify the main purpose of the information.
  • Use bullet points.
  • Use key points and summarise the information in your words. This will help maintain academic integrity and prevent unintentional plagiarism.
  • Visual techniques can help – headings, highlighting key points, lines or arrows to connect ideas, columns with key words in the left column and key supporting points on the right. Experiment with these techniques to see which one works for you.
  • Use abbreviations to save time and to connect key ideas.

Note-taking: How to use your notes

Tips on how to use your notes:

  • Review your notes within 24 hours after class. Read out loud.
  • Reflect on how the information is relevant to your course/career path and to real-life situations. This will help you retain the information and improve your understanding.
  • Ensure your notes are stored for easy access so the notes can be used for revision, assessment writing and/or for exams.

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