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How to Take Notes in Class Fast and Effectively

You know what they say: The palest ink is better than the best memory. It is for a reason. When we write things down, we tend to memorize faster and better.

You can pay attention to something you are learning, and after some time, you can’t remember it unless you have some reminder in the form of notes.

Physical and online books are often extensive, so taking notes in class can speed up the studying and reading process and avoid long scrolling through documents.

Good teachers use their own words instead of sentences from the books. Writing down these words for good understanding and memorizing the material is essential. But how can you be an effective note-taker? 

This article will give suggestions on taking better notes in class.

Why is it important to know how to take effective notes in class

Scientists say that writing is an excellent way to memorize things! You can take notes with pen and paper, smartpen and tablet, or by typing on your keyboard. In each way, you will see progress in learning.

There probably were situations where you borrowed class notes from your peers. Their notes surely confused you, and you needed help understanding them. That is because someone else was writing this, and it is in people’s nature to better manage their papers and notes.

Doing your new project is always easier than remaking someone else’s. So, taking your notes is essential for good learning.

Tutors always recommend taking notes because you can remember the moment you wrote sentences and their context.

One of the best reasons to take notes in class is, of course, to save time later when you are preparing for tests. With good notes, you will need less time to study.

Now that we know why taking proper notes in class is so useful, we can discuss note-taking methods. 

Do you need to be fast to make good notes?

When you are time-limited it is vital to be fast so you don’t miss to note key points which will help you study. Taking notes fast when teachers have their speaking tempo can sometimes be difficult.

The main thing you need to know is that it’s not a great note if you write everything down. The first three tips on how to take notes in class effectively will help you note data quickly.

How to take notes in class effectively?

Making notes is a valuable tool because it allows you to keep track of all the important information you have heard. Having that information well-organized and clear is just as vital.

Here are some pieces of advice on how you can organize your notes : 

1. Determine the topic and subtopics

You need to separate the main topic and then the most important subtopics and questions under it. Having them separated gives you clarity and easier navigation, which also saves time.

2. Separate notes visually

For example, you can separate paper into 4 squares, like quarters. In these squares, you can put different facts. Each square is reserved for data based on the same subtopic. This advice will allow you to quickly put the thesis in boxes.

Whether you are writing by hand or working on digital notes, this advice will help you memorize. You will find yourself remembering things by the square you put them into. When you get a question, you will remember the answer from your visual memory of squares. For example: ,,I remember this information from the upper right square’’. 

3. Use bullet points

Under subtopics, you can list the main theses about that subtopic. Don’t write too much about one thing, just the key point. You’ve already heard that less is more, especially when discussing memorization. This will be absolutely effective for taking notes in class.

4. Drawings, illustrations, and graphs are very welcome

The best method for taking notes for each subject is drawing.

When you, for example, attend biology class and the theme for that day is the human heart, the best advice for students is to draw it. The aorta, artery, and heart chamber can all be visualized in an illustration.

Many people have a photographic memory, so this visualization of information will stay in your mind easily. Of course, this illustration doesn’t need to be beautiful. The only thing that matters is that it makes sense in your brain. 

Sketches can be made for geometric shapes in Math, DNA can be presented in Science class, and basically, this can be used for every subject.

Drawing saves time because you avoid writing sentences; instead, you write just some words to describe the image better.

5. Brain loves colors

Certainly, you are familiar with the combination of markers and studying. When you learn how to take notes fast in class, the next step is to add colors to them. You don’t need to do it while you are writing important points, but after you finish, it’s time for coloring.

Using markers to highlight key concepts of the lecture can be extremely effective, as well. The same principle of memorization which is present in visual separation of notes is also present here. Information stays in your brain in chosen colors. 

This method may not help you take notes faster in class, but it will help you make good, organized, and beautiful notes for both eyes and brain.

6. Review your notes

The best advice is to review your notes for better understanding. You can optionally make a few changes, like correcting a spelling error. 

When you write notes by hand, you can sometimes find them messy, and that’s absolutely fine. The second version of the same notes is a great idea if they are unclear. Make them organized, and while you do that, you will learn again.

Taking notes in online classes is absolutely easy. You can basically review your notes with a teacher during class. Tutors in online schools, especially online high schools, love when students take notes. They are always glad to answer your questions or repeat what they said.

Besides the combination of different methods presented in this article, there are some already proven popular methods of how to take notes effectively in class. You can follow them if that strategy suits you best. 

  • Cornell Method: The date, topic, key questions, and summary are all included in this format. 
  • Outline Method: The lecture is arranged by main topics in an outline, leaving space for examples and specifics.
  • Mapping Method: A visual representation of notes is good for content that has an order or steps involved. 
  • Charting Method: A way to organize notes from lectures with a substantial amount of facts by dividing key topics into columns and recording facts underneath. 
  • Sentence Method: One of the simplest forms of note-taking, where you just note key points in the form of sentences. It quickly covers details and information. 


After you check the box for active listening in class, the next one is for note-taking skills. We explained why taking notes in class can be helpful. There are many note-taking methods, and finding one that best suits you is important. Note-taking is one of the best ways to develop good study habits.

Now, once you learned how to take notes in class, you are ready for your next class. We wish you luck in your educational journey!

Author: Nina L.