Note-taking Strategies

Skill: Writing

Category: Academic English & TOEFL

Level: Upper-Intermediate

Note-taking Strategies

Note-taking is a prominent learning skill in university and workplace. The memory of human being can take in and keep information only until the new one comes and replace it. So meaningful and long-term learning does not occur right in the class, but it happens after and between classes as one studies. Brief and organized notes help to understand and learn what someone has heard and can be easily accessible for other reviews after some time. In this part, we learn some techniques for note-taking.      

A) What to write while taking notes?

  1. Write down the main idea in phrase that which you will remember
  2. Write down details to support the main idea
  3. Write down some facts like: numbers, dates, and names that are difficult to remember

B) What not to write while taking notes?

  1. Do not write down insignificant words (definite and indefinite articles: a, an / the)
  2. Do not write unimportant details or insignificant examples
  3. Do not write words that show the organization (on the other hand, the main point is)

C) Predict the structure or organization of the lecture

  1. If it is a lecture it may consist of introduction, body and conclusion
  2. If it is a narrative it may consist of beginning, middle and end.
  3. Other types of organizational style which may help you in the procedure
    1. Theory and evidence
    1. Cause and effect
    1. Steps of a process
    1. And comparing two things

So, for understanding the organization of the lecture, the listener should listen for clues as the lecture begins.

D) Use symbols and abbreviation

For saving time and not missing the lecture, it is essential to use symbols. So develop a system of symbols and abbreviations, some personal and some common ones.

Some common examples of commonly used symbols used in note-taking:

Symbol Meaning Symbol Meaning
showing result (leads to, causes) $ money
showing reason (caused by, because of) @ at
increase, more, go up, up minutes/feet
decrease, less, go down seconds/inches
= equal to, is, are man, men, male
not equal to, is not, are not, is the opposite of woman, women, female
Approximately, about because
greater than & and
>>  much greater than # number
less than Therefore

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