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How to take great notes

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Published: 4 May 2020

University of Sunderland in London student taking notes in a lecture

Some of you will have just started studying with the University of Sunderland in London, others will be coming to the end of your degree. But wherever you are in your life-changing University journey with us, you need to know how to take good notes. There are a few different methods to choose from, so try out some of the below and find out which works best for you.

The Cornell Method

This method, named after the famous American college, helps you summarise the notes you take in class into something you’ll find easy to remember.

How

  • Break your page up into 3 parts: a 2.5inch (6.3cm) margin on the left, a 2inch (5cm) summary section on the bottom and a 6inch (15cm) main section.
  • Use the biggest section for taking notes in class.
  • The 2.5inch (6.3cm) section on the left is used for cues - after class write down the words or phrases you need to remember.
  • The bottom section is for the summary - write down the main points of the lecture.

A notetaking method

The Mapping Method

If you’re a visual learner, try this method to understand how information connects to each other.

How

The page is organised into topics, which you can then break down into sub-topics to be more specific.

  • In class, write the main topic at the top of the paper
  • Below that, separate topics into their own sections
  • Write the main points under each topic
  • Repeat the pattern as you need

Note taking method

The Outlining Method

If you need a lot of detail in your notes, try this method.

How

  • In class, write the main topic in a single bullet point
  • Write the first subtopic below this, slightly to the right
  • Put any details below the subtopic, again slightly to the right

A note taking method

The Charting Method

This method is useful is there are a lot of facts to remember.

How

  • Break your page up into three equal columns
  • Write the topic at the top of each column
  • Put the main points of each topic under that

Note taking method

The Sentence Method

This is the most basic method. You simply write each point made in the lecture in a sentence. It’s a useful way of taking notes in a fast-paced lecture.

How

  • Write the important point your lecturer says in an easy to understand sentence.
  • Each point is a new sentence on a new line.
  • Use heading to organise your points more clearly.

Note taking method

The way you take notes is important. You should use them to remember what you’ve heard in class and look back at them when you’re writing essays or studying for exams. The right note-taking method is the one that works best for you. Try out a few of these and change them to see what works. 

You can get more study skills to help you with your studies on the Library website.

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