BMH Blog

Effective Note Taking

Taking effective notes and writing down verbatim what your lecturer says are two very different things. Proper note taking not only assists with comprehension and attention but transforms you into an active learner.

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Taking notes during lecturers forces you to:

  • Tune in & listen
  • Analyse what is said & identify what’s important
  • Be an active listener rather than passive – this makes you think about what you’re taking note of

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The Do’s…

  • Be attentive to the main points
  • Take precise notes of formulas, definitions, terminology & facts
  • Use your own words where possible – this helps with retention & understanding
  • Use bullet points to indicate related info & distinguish major from minor points
  • Use highlighters to indicate new terminology
  • Write legibly – you need to be able to decipher what you’ve written
  • Create your own system of symbols & abbreviations
  • Review your notes within 24 hours – Relook words you don’t understand & fill in gaps or questions
  • Start new notes for each new lecture – remember to date & number your pages
  • Keep your notes as brief as possible


The Don’ts…

  • Do not try to write every word the lecturer says – seek out the main points & info
  • Do not use scrappy pieces of paper
  • Do not record or film a lecture with your phone instead of taking actual notes – by actively taking notes you are processing & retaining the info

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  • If it’s being written on a whiteboard
  • If it’s in bold or CAPS or both!
  • Emphasis – this can be picked up in two ways
    1 Tone of voice & gestures
    2 The amount of time the lecturer spends on a certain point
  • Reviews given at the beginning of a lecture, highlighted points or topics from the previous lesson
  • Repetition – the lecturer won’t repeat the same point for nothing



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