Navigate Up
Sign In

Find a Course

Download course schedules and calendars.


Quick Links

Note Taking Tips

Doing your best during class and on exams...
What?! You didn't say THAT was going to be on the test!


Notetaking can be easy if you develop a system and use it in each class. There are three systems of notetaking. Each one is useful for different student personalities. The Cornell Method is useful if you are very organized and plan to read the chapters before the lecture. The informal outline is easy to do and is useful in almost every class. Clustering is for more artistic students. It is a visual method that can be used by itself or in conjunction with another method.



When you take notes, you will save time and energy by using abbreviations. The following list shows some common abbreviations. If you are in a class that uses a specific word over and over, such as Civil War in American History, it may be helpful to make up your own abbreviations. For example, you could use CW. The most important thing is that if you make up abbreviations, you should be sure to remember what they mean.


Common Abbreviations

Equal -- = Department -- dept
With -- w/ Compare -- cf
Without -- w/o For example -- e.g.
Number -- # Against -- vs
At -- @ Introduction -- intro.
And -- + Organization -- org
And so forth -- etc. Politics -- pol


Here are some other basic pointers for notetaking:

  • Put the name of the class at the top of the page.
    Put the date at the top of the page.
    Put the page # at the top of the page.
    Write down the basic topic of the lecture.
    Use 8 ½" by 11" paper in a looseleaf binder.
    Take notes in pen [you can get erasable pens].
    Make sure your notes are legible.
    Keep all notes from one class together. It is helpful to buy separators with color tabs for your binder.
    Use one of the three types of notetaking systems.
    Make sure you copy information from the chalkboard or overhead transparencies.
    As soon as possible after class, review your notes to fill in the gaps of information that you missed. Do this while the lecture is still fresh on your mind.
    If you miss class, get photocopies of notes from another student. You can make copies at a charge in the library.

Besides notetaking, there are five basic ways that you can organize information for study. Each one has specific qualities that will be most helpful in some classes:

  • Concept map
    Comparison charts
    Time lines
    Process diagrams
    Branching diagrams


In Summary

Overall, there is no tip that can take the place of good, old-fashioned study. However, maybe after seeing this information, you will spend less time trying to figure out how to get organized or worrying about exams, and more time reviewing the material. If you would like more information on note and test taking strategies, you can consult the following sources:


Taking Essay Tests

Learning Strategies

Math Study Skills Evaluation

Studying Mathematics

Word-Problem Solving


Last, but not least, remember that you can get help on campus in the Tutoring and Testing Center. Please contact Rebecca Burch at 1-888-994-7818 to get more information about free tutoring!