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3 Ways to Take Notes in Class

Jan 11, 2016 | Harrison College

3 Ways to Take Notes in Class

People learn in various ways. Some students memorize concepts by saying them out loud. Other students prefer to watch videos or demonstrations. Still others favor reading a textbook and taking notes in a quiet setting. No matter which style of learning suits you best, taking notes is one of the more common ways that students study and acquire new knowledge.

Learning how to take notes in class, however, can still be a difficult process, even if you have been doing it for a long time. Many people use Roman numerals and other traditional note-taking methods; however, there are many methods you may be unaware of that you might find more helpful.

If you have not tried branching out from your traditional note-taking habits, check out the graphics below – and the explanations following the graphic – describing three ways to take notes. You might even find a new technique that helps you succeed on your academic journey. And, if you have questions along the way, your Harrison College instructors can help explain these concepts for you.



The Cornell Method

The Cornell Method of taking notes involves two columns on a sheet of paper: a smaller column on the left and a larger column on the right. In the left column, you write a key concept or vocabulary term, such as “hypertension.” In the column on the right, you can then explain the definition or anything else you should know about that topic. For example, you might write, “a disorder where blood pressure remains higher than normal levels,” along with any other pertinent facts, phrases or statistics.

The Outlining Method

The Outlining Method may be familiar to most students. This style of note-taking has many versions, such as using Roman numerals or different types of bullet points. The important idea behind outlining is that you indent lines that fall under a key concept. For example, your first bullet point might say, “Organism.” The bullet point beneath that would be indented, so you would write a relevant fact or thought about organisms on that second line.

The Webbing or Mind Mapping Method

The Webbing (or Mind Mapping) Method is ideal for people who learn visually. This gives you the opportunity to get more creative with your notes, spreading them out on the page. You start with a key concept, which you normally place in the middle inside of a box or bubble. Next, you draw lines from that area to other boxes and bubbles that hold information about that key concept. For additional creativity – and for an extra way to help spark your memory – try using different colors for the boxes and bubbles.


While these are only three ways to take notes in class, trying a new method could truly help your academic experience. Asking instructors for help when you try new learning methods may also greatly improve your chances of growing your academic skills. Give one of these options a try during your next class. You might just be surprised at how much you learn! 

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