How to take notes effectively (5 STEP GUIDE)

How To Take Notes Effectively (5 STEP GUIDE)

To get good grades on exams you have to have an effective note-taking system (The Cornell Note-taking System). I’m going to show you how to take notes whether it’s for a lecture, a PowerPoint or added to your textbook. This is going to work for your math, science, English, history or other classes.

What you need to do is pick out the keywords, people or places that you would be tested on. I always tried to mark a special page(e.g. there’s a chart) with a sticky flag so that I remember to come back to it later on.

Okay, there are five steps.

Record, Reduce, Recite, Reflect and Review

With your piece of paper or notebook, you are going to create two lines. Use a ruler to make one vertical line about a third the way through the paper, and make one horizontal at the bottom. Make sure you put the date at the top of the paper. You can also put the course, the topic or the chapter that you are working on.

Note header and frame


We’re going to write down as many facts and ideas as you can in this section. Do not worry about getting every single word down. You can develop your own shorthand. To ensure that your notes make sense. Fill in the blanks to make incomplete sentences complete when you’re going back to study.


Think of your notes as questions. Reduce important facts and ideas into keywords or phrases. You can create questions based on them. Keywords phrases and questions are written in the narrow column on the left.

Record, reduce and summary

This is the summary at the bottom of the page. You can summarize the facts and ideas, try to get your summary to be just one or two sentences. You can also use are highlighting techniques in your written notes.


Cut a post-it note in half and use it to cover up definitions from important words that I have in my notes. When I’m studying, I don’t see them and it can help me to recite things out loud and memorize better. This is one of my favorite tips for remembering math formulas or signs equations.

Recite tip


I am going to show you how to flag your strategy by using notebook tag. I use it all the time.

Connect – Characters, plot, event, setting or some dates use a tag to note those when you come across from the book.
Question – Flag a point where you had a question.
Infer/Predict – Flag where you have use the authors clues to figure something out.
Monitor – Flag where you have stopped to figure out a word or you had to reread a passage.
Evaluate – Flag where you framed an opinion about the story or characters something you like or dislike or just general thoughts.

notebook tags
Note tags

This system really works for me, because it’s written on black but then the important things are colorful and fun.

If this was way too much for you I’m going to show you how to keep it simple.
All you need to do is: Do not write down everything. Look for main ideas, concepts or arguments that will help you to understand. Then you want to search for general themes, think about how the lecture or reading relate to the overall theme of the course. Drawing pictures can also help you remember certain facts and ideas.


Actually use your notes. Organized notes are no good if you do not spend time to review them.

Here is a little tip. Use the post-it tags to divide chapters in your notebook, then it’s easy to flip through and find exactly what you’re looking for.


Printable note template

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