Make notes

Developing your reading and note taking skills will help you throughout your studies and also in your work.

It may seem like a small thing, but developing these skills will help you learn more effectively, retain more information, save time and minimise stress. Learning the right reading and note taking strategies for your learning style can make all the difference to your studies.

Spend some time now to learn new note taking strategies and then put them into practice to make your study time more effective!

Closeup portrait of a woman writing in a notepad at a desk

Things to do

Take notes that suit your learning style

Study tips for auditory (listening) learners

  • Audio record your classes, instructions or your written notes to play back later, perhaps in the car while you are travelling.
  • Study with a friend who can read out the information to you.
  • Try out voice recognition software to convert speech to text. Reading or speaking out loud will help to set information into your memory.
  • Ask questions until you have an understanding of the material being presented.
  • Try making up silly rhymes, or jingles, to help you recall information.
  • When you come across new words, sound them out, syllable by syllable. Hearing them will help you to recognize them next time.

Study tips for visual (seeing) learners

  • Underline important words in the text.
  • Highlight words and phrases that you want to remember.
  • Use colour codes to organise your notes.
  • Watch videos that show how something is done.
  • Use photographs or pictures to illustrate a point – a picture is worth a thousand words!
  • Learn how to mindmap and structure information in a visual way.
  • Use graphs to represent information.

Study tips for kinaesthetic (doing) learners

  • Read text out loud and record it. Then play it back to yourself.
  • You might find the action of chewing gum while doing a static job will be enough movement to help you concentrate.
  • Doing something with your hands while studying can help. Why not try playing with a yo-yo? Or squeezing a stress ball?
  • If you are studying with friends, use role play to “act out” a story or passage that you need to read. Remembering the actions you took will bring the plot back to mind later in class or at work.
  • Rather than just underlining or highlighting important words in a text, try using different coloured pens to colour code the points.
  • Write important things to remember on index cards or flashcards and shuffle them around, laying them out in different ways on the desk. The act of physically moving the cards will help to cement the ideas written on them into your memory.

Learn from your notes

Just taking notes doesn’t necessarily mean you are learning. No matter which methods of note taking you use, you will need to spend time after class revising, and engaging with, your notes to learn effectively. Try some of these ideas to work with your notes after class.

Summarise your notes – rewrite your notes in your own words to make sure you really understand what you are learning.

Use a dictionary to look up words you are unsure of and write the definition in your notes.

Write down anything that you want to remember, such as a list of things to do, facts to learn, facts for a test etc.

Underline or highlight important words you need to learn as you read.

Talk about your notes with others.

Add questions to your notes. This will help you identify what knowledge you have and what you need to find out.

Reflect on your notes, ask yourself: Why is this important? How does it relate to, or increase, my existing knowledge? How can I, or will I, use this information?