Taking notes is a skill that is essential to master in high school and most definitely in college.  Here are some tips to help you become a better note taker.

  1. Be organized.  Always have your notebook and something to write with every day.  Check your backpack at night to make sure you have what you need for the next day.  If you’re out of materials, that’s the time to stock up.
  2. Label your notes with the date and the objective for the day.  That way you’ll know what these notes are covering.
  3. When taking notes, organize them into different sections:
  • a certain space for identifying the main ideas
  • a margin space for writing key words or additional thoughts
  • a summary section, either at the end or along the side

Different Note Taking Methods 

Cornell Method

Section for Keywords or Main ideas




 Details of the topic covered


Causes of the war were MAIN – Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, and Nationalism.

All these factors linked together lead to the outbreak of the war in Europe.






Main Idea

  •     Supporting evidence
  •     Supporting evidence
  •     Supporting evidence

Main Idea

  •     Supporting evidence
  •     Supporting evidence
  •     Supporting evidence  


Columns & Categories 

Concept or ideas Supporting details
Concept or ideas Supporting details

Concept Mapping

Concept Mapping is good if you are a visual learner – someone who needs to see the actual connections of the concepts and ideas.
Using a large center circle or square to identify the main idea and then draw lines to smaller circles or squares linking the supporting facts to the main idea. 

SQRRR (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review)

Audience: Intermediate - Senior High Students

Process: This is a study approach designed to help students understand more difficult material.

Survey and Question

  • Read the title, turn it into a question
  • Read the introduction, formulate questions
  • Turn headings and subheadings into questions
  • Read captions under pictures, charts, graphs
  • Read the summary
  • Recall instructor's comments
  • Recall what you already know


  • Look for answers to your questions
  • Look for the answers to the teacher's questions and the book's questions
  • Reread the captions
  • Study graphic aids
  • Carefully read italicized and bolded words
  • Reread parts that are not clear


  • Repeat orally
  • Take notes
  • Underline (if possible)
  • Review (within 24 hours)
  • Page through material and reacquaint yourself with important points
  • Read written notes you have made


Webbing is a sound strategy for students who prefer a more visual technique for taking notes.  To use this strategy, the student first draws a circle in the center of page.   Inside that circle, he writes the topic of the lecture (for example, World War I).  Next, he draws a line branching out of the center circle.  On the line, he writes the first section, or main idea, of the lecture (for example, Causes of World War I).  He then draws bubbles branching out of that line containing important details which describe that main idea.  Once the teacher has finished discussing that section, he draws another line branching from the original center circle.  On that line, he writes the next main idea (for example,  Battles of World War I).  He then draws bubbles branching out of that line with important details describing that main idea, and continues with that pattern until the lecture is complete.

Webbing helps students visualize information that they hear, and Web diagrams serve as great tools for test preparation!

The process of listening in class and taking well-written notes can be an anxiety-filled task.  Students will be required to take more and more complex notes as they progress through school.  Learning these techniques for shorthand and different styles of note taking can ease this process and help develop students’ confidence in their own classroom abilities.  So get your note taking gear ready, and start practicing!