Students excel with savvy note-taking techniques

As the teacher droned on about the properties of matter, a student rapidly jotted down bullet points with a purple pen. Another student pressed her eraser down on the paper, spreading pink shavings across the table.

“Sometimes [I have trouble] writing notes down. I try to write things down from a teacher’s PowerPoint, but they switch the slide when I’m right in the middle of writing,” Brooke Ibarra, eighth grade communications major, said.

A common problem with student’s notes was not writing fast enough. Copying a lecture word-for-word and writing in complete sentences were the main causes for being unable to keep up with a teacher’s lecture.

“[Students new to note-taking] should abbreviate a lot and only write important information,” Andrea Turner, eighth grade visual major, said. “That way, they won’t fall behind on the notes.”

According to Exam Time, students who took sloppy and unorganized notes had trouble studying them before a test. A recommended technique was to develop “your own language of symbols” to write less, but still understand the important information.

“I write long sentences and can’t keep up with what the teachers are saying,” Diksha Gupta, sixth grade communications major said.

According to, writing in colored pens helped students retain 50 to 80 percent more information without reviewing their notes twice. However, highlighting everything on class notes emphasized nothing important.

Attorney Jennifer Phillips said in an interview with FastCompany, “A friend of mine’s [civil procedure] book looked like she squashed a clown to death between its pages; everything was highlighted, thereby actually emphasizing nothing.”

As well as taking notes in class, students found it helpful to rewrite notes.

“A lot of people say writing something helps you memorize it,” Turner said. “After I write the notes, I usually don’t have to study them because I know them.”

The bell rang as the teacher clicked the last slide of the PowerPoint off the screen. Students looked over their notes one last time before cramming them into their backpacks or placing them neatly into their folders.