Taking Notes



Be Prepared

Before class, read textbook assignment.

After class, review the same textbook assignment.


Attend all classes.

Arrive on time (or early if possible).  Many instructors introduce the main points in the beginning of their lectures.


For each class, have a separate notebook for notes.

Write the date on your notes.  You can then keep them in chronological order.

What to write

Your instructor may let you know - stay alert and listen for cues.

Don't try to write every word.  Streamline your handwriting by eliminating fancy lettering, using abbreviations & symbols, create your own shorthand system.

After the first exam, you will know if your note taking was adequate.  If your notes contained the majority of what was asked on the test, your notes are sufficient.  If your notes contained much more information, you may want to write more concise.  If there was not enough information, you know you need to write more to be prepared for the next exam.

Cues for what is important

Ideas written on the board

Verbal tips by instructors

If instructor reads aloud from text

Numbered items

Include new terms in your terms

Subtle Cues - watch your instructor.  A louder voice to emphasize a point, repeating an idea, pausing for you to write.

End of lecture - many instructors take final moments to summarize their main points.

Review your notes

After class (within 24 hours) review your notes.

Taping the Lecture

Ask instructor for permission to tape the lecture.

You can fill in any blanks in your notes by listening to the lecture.  You can also listen when at home or driving.

Studying your notes

Notes should be divided by headings

Turn your headings into questions.  "What is...."  You will read and remember facts in your notes that answer the question.

Dictate main points into a recorder from your lecture notes and listen to it later.

Create flashcards of important terms


Reference:  Meltzer, M. & Palau, S. (1993).  Reading and study strategies for nursing students.  Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders Company.