Tips on How to Take Fast Notes

Study notes

You should always take notes in the classroom because when you write something, it’s easier to retain it. Maybe, that’s because the process is usually relatively slow and forces you to really think about the things you’re writing down. Students who take no notes forget approximately 20% of the lectures by the end of two weeks. However, some students don’t know how to do notetaking and present almost the same picture. It’s important to do it fast and efficiently. If you want to succeed in your studies, you should acquire this skill.


Abbreviating common words is a good way to make your writing less rough and more condensed. With that said, you can change, for example, the word “with” with “w/” and “because” with “b.” This really helps when a teacher or a lecturer is talking very fast. You may want to look for common abbreviations for notetaking or make your own. However, keep in mind that consistency is of paramount importance here, so always use the same abbreviation for the same word. You will want to be able to read everything later. However, do not get used to the abbreviations too much: they are not suitable for college essays at all.

If you prefer laptops notes to handwritten, you can use such apps as Evernote or Byword to write down during a lecture or to write an essay. There are many options. But we highly recommend you to handwrite everything because it will help you to retain information better and edit it later.

Boustrophedon Writing

This is not an easy method as you’ve got used to the usual way of writing. But once you learn how to do it, it will save you a lot of time. The concept of this technique is that you don’t have to start every line over from the same side. The most difficult part is that when you go from right to left, the letters should be written in a mirror. You can try to write this way next time you’re assigned to write an essay.

Cornell Method

You’ve probably known this technique but haven’t incorporated it into your studies yet. Many students find this technique very useful because it allows you not to go over the notes a lot of times. All you have to do is to divide your note paper into 3 sections. Then, you can take your notes in the large section, write down all the key questions you have in the margin on the left and brief summaries at the bottom of the page. Such notes significantly reduce the time of homework preparation.

Common Mistakes

Don’t forget that you should write down only the key elements. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of energy on unnecessary information. Imagine if you were to go to grocery store and instead of buying everything that you need, spend most of your time reading an article about healthy eating. So, focus on what’s important at the moment.

It’s wise to do more listening than writing, especially if you are an auditory learner (you should better know your preferred learning channel). After all, you are a student, not a dictation machine. However, if your teacher says that the information will be on the test, write everything down. Even if you feel like a parrot. It’s also wise to copy everything that is written on the board.

In addition, you’ll want to try to make your writing as illegible as possible. Many students take notes in a very haphazard style and then make broken promises to themselves to copy them later. It’s better to do everything correctly in the first place as it will save you a lot of time. However, talking about the essay writing, it’s always better to write a rough draft of a paper first.

You can also make doodles when you find yourself drifting out during a lesson or when you just want to draw something funny. This will increase your concentration and enrich your notes and content. But be careful and don’t abuse it.

Finally, when your friend gets sick and as a result, misses a few lessons, you can use carbon paper to provide his/her with the copy. It’s very beneficial to you because your friend may use your notes at times when you’d like to have them.

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