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Student Learning Success Guides!

NOTE TAKING can be an excellent learning tool if you arrive to class prepared and make use of your notes for studying and exam review.


Use your favourite pen/pencil to take notes. The writing utensil you choose should be enjoyable to use! (If you'd like to take notes on your laptop, check with your instructor first.)

Preview the textbook material before the lecture to give you an idea of what the instructor will be talking about.

In a separate notebook, label your notes for each class with the date and topic of the lecture.

Don't try to write down everything your instructor says. Note taking is not transcription!

Keep track of key words. Be sure to write down any new terms or specialized vocabulary.


How do you organize your notes (by date or topic)?

Which specific note-taking technique do you use (Cornell, mind mapping, sentence method)?

How do you pinpoint your instructor's main messages?

What strategies and techniques can you use to make your notes more useful?

Note Taking

Try these note taking strategies and activities:


  • Know the major topic/role of the lecture in the course.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Be well rested, fed, and alert.


  • Use active listening skills.
  • Use an effective note-taking method.
  • Consider recording the lecture (with permission).


  • Review your notes frequently!
  • Don’t forget about them right after class.

Cornell Method

Cornell Notetaking page divided into three sections       

      Divide your note pages into 3 sections: notes, cues, summary.

              •       Notes: Take notes in class.

              •       Cues: As soon as you can after class, add cues to help you review.

              •       Summary: Write a short summary of the lecture/part of the lecture on notes page.

       Pros: You’re creating a review/study tool as you take notes.

       Cons: Can be tricky to format on your laptop.

Outline Method

Outline of Satire Examples       

        1.  ​Make top-level bullet points of main points.

        2.  Fill in lower-level bullet points with significant details.

        (Works well with MS OneNote/Evernote/Byword.)

        Pros: Simple. Hierarchical. Easy to create and review.

        (You may already have printable PowerPoint slides from your instructor!)

        Cons: Best suited to laptop use. Harder to do by hand.


Mind Map Method

Image showing Mindmap connections     Start with a blank page. Write main topic of the lecture in the middle.

     Draw a branch for each important sub-section in the lecture.

     Now draw smaller branches for main points of the sub-sections.

     Pros: Great for people who like to doodle as a concentration aid.

     Easy way to get all significant points down and show how they’re connected.

     Cons: If you don’t prep for basic knowledge before the lecture, it could get messy!