Note Taking and Revision Tips

Note-taking is critical to a student’s success. To rely only on your memory only to retain all salient points from lectures, textbooks, or from internet research, and recall these during these exams, or when it comes to apply the concepts learned is an impossible task.

Below are tips to assist you in note-taking. You may use either the old fashioned pen and paper or your digital device such as laptop.

Textbooks or other written materials

1. First scan the table of contents or if possible the whole material so you have an idea of the range of topics, and be able to calculate the time needed to cover each topic or chapter.

2. After you have read the chapters or material, write down on a separate sheet an outline of the chapter and fill in the outline. You can do this by writing down below each heading the main points or a summary of the chapter, in your own words.

3. Feel free to use a highlighter on the material as you go along to mark the important points. You can also write notes on the side of the page right across the point that you are looking at.


1. You may find that writing down notes using your penmanship improves retention. Or you may prefer the use of your digital device as with this you may find it easier to organize and retrieve notes. The disadvantage of the tablet though is you may wander off to look up unrelated topics on the internet while the lecture is going on.

2. You can record the whole lecture in video or audio, but you may want to ask permission from the professor first. Listening to the lecture again takes time, but hopefully you will be able to review points you may have missed if your attention was diverted during the lecture.

3. Take note of the salient points only. There is no need to write everything down.

  • You will know the teacher is making an important point when he or she
  • Says “listen to this” or “take note of this because this will appear in the exam”
  • Repeats the idea
  • Raises the volume of his voice to emphasize a point
  • Writes the idea on the board
  • Says something slowly word for word

4. After the lecture, review your notes to see if you can read them, and rewrite as necessary. If there is anything that is not clear, you can always ask your classmate or teacher after class or before the next class.

5. If the teacher provides a PowerPoint presentation, you can print that out before the class, and write your notes on the edge of each slide.

6. Write down examples, these will help to remember.

7. Synthesize your notes – combine lecture and reading notes into one. You can use an outline for this purpose and fill it in using your own words.

8. Whether you are using loose leaf or a notebook, write down at the top of each page the topic of the lecture, course name and the date. You can bind the loose leaves later but make sure you have indicated the page number so you do not lose the sequence in which the topics are presented.


For notes taken from the internet, and in general for all note-taking, there are 2 programs which you will find useful. These are Ever note and OneNote. You can type, you can draw, you can imbed files, even audio and video and you can capture web pages using the updated version of both programs. You can also access your files from any device whether it is your laptop, or Smartphone, at anytime.

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