Your Guide to College Note Taking

Taking Notes

Attending your college classes is important but it’s also beneficial to learn how to take great notes to help you get that A in class. Here are some tips and tricks to help you retain information and even continuing to use these techniques once you are out of college.

Use a binder

A binder is a great way to stay organized. You can take all of the handouts, notes and assignments for your class and organize them into one location. This is also a better option than a folder as they won’t easily get lost when they are clipped in.

A binder is also a great way to keep everything in one location as well as keeping subjects and other classes divided with separators. Organization is key to success!

Color isn’t just to make things look pretty

Separating each class by color makes the subject easy to find. Having different color binder for each class and even carrying that same color into your calendar when keeping track of assignments makes it easily recognizable.

Along with having a specific color for each class, consider using colors to separate chapters or subjects in the same class.

Combining your notes with handouts

Keeping everything in one location makes it easier to track down what you are looking for. Why have a folder for handouts, one for exams and one for quizzes? Just have one central location for each class. The easier you make it to have the material you need the easier it will be to study.

Critical vs Supporting

As you are taking notes, it’s important to bring more attention to the critical material than the supporting. Make sure to highlight critical material to make it easier to pick out when studying for a test. Another option when dealing with critical content is to make note of it in your margins. This will jump out at you when scanning your readings.

Write your own tests and study guides

College professors don’t always provide study or test guides when preparing you for an upcoming exam. Consider creating your own test questions from the class material or even write questions on post it notes and the answer on the back. This gives you an opportunity to review the material multiple times. You see it for the first time with the professor and class, as you are creating your study guide or test and then a final time when you use that to study. Three times is the charm for that exam preparation!

Notes your way

It’s important that no matter how you take notes or what you do to help you with your classes, that you make it work for you. Note taking may be different for everyone but when it works for you, stick with it!

These tips are not only great for passing tests and helping with assignments but succeeding at your future!  Carry these tips beyond the classroom. You will be surprised at how often you will need note-taking skills in your professional life! Need additional tips? Check out the Student Success Centers at Marshalltown Community College and The Hub at Ellsworth Community College for a few tips and tricks from the pros!