Write That Down: The Importance of Taking Notes

It seems like common sense to take notes on the topics your professors cover in class, but a surprising number of college students choose not to. Even if you have the best memory in the world, there will still be things your professor mentions – maybe even important things that will show up on an exam – that you’re going to forget. No matter how hard we try, there is no way we can remember everything.


Whether you’re just starting to take notes in class or you’re trying to update your note-taking routine to adjust to a new class or professor, here are a few tips for making your notes as helpful and painless as possible:


  1. Try different methods. If you’re struggling to keep up with your notes or staying engaged with them during class, try out different note-taking methods. From the Cornell Method to outlining to mind maps, there’s sure to be a style out there that works for you. It might even help to use different methods for different classes or subjects, depending on the material being covered.
  2. Use technology. If taking notes by hand isn’t your thing, see if your professors will allow you to take notes on a laptop or tablet. Many will, but some won’t, so make sure you check before bringing your device to class. Typing your notes directly into an empty document is the simplest method, but there are also lots of apps and programs that can help keep your notes organized by class or subject.
  3. Use shorthand. This doesn’t mean you need to go learn a bunch of new symbols or an entirely new writing system. But using abbreviations, or phrases in place of complete sentences, can help you take notes faster while still getting the most important information. Just make sure that when you read over your notes later you’ll be able to understand the abbreviations you used – notes you can’t read don’t help you at all!
  4. Don’t try to write everything down. Even if you’re using abbreviations and short phrases, you probably still won’t be able to get down everything that your professor says or puts on the board. And that’s okay! Pay attention to your professor and what kind of information shows up on the tests to make sure that you’re taking notes on things that you’ll really need to know.
  5. Review your notes later. It’s all well and good to take notes in class, but they won’t do you any good if you don’t review them later! It’s best to read over your notes soon after class, but if that’s not possible then try to review them at least a few times before your test.


I know you think you’ll remember everything important that your professors say in class, but you don’t want to get to the exam and realize that you would have remembered the information more if you had written it down. Note taking is such an important tool for college students, so don’t forget your notebook and pen the next time you go to class!

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