Latino student holds a stack of books in the library. He wears a white tshirt and smiles. He has short black hair and tan skin.

Note-Taking Methods for College 

Taking notes is essential in Math class (as well as in all college subjects!) Establishing effective note-taking methods for college is one way to earn good grades and is an important element of effective study techniques.

By taking careful notes, you can:

  • Record how the instructor has explained procedures.
  • Record what examples the instructor has demonstrated.
  • Develop good organizational skills.
  • Record important class information such as homework assignments and test dates.

Note-Taking Strategies for College

Study Tips for College Students

  1. Listen 
    • Come to class with a positive attitude; this will help you focus, concentrate and get the most out of the lecture.
    • Sit close to the front of class as possible to improve your concentration and vision.
    • Stay focused on the content of the lecture.
    • Do not be distracted by classmates or daydreams.
    • Relate important points to concepts you already know.
    • Ask the instructor for clarification, if you don't understand.
    • Listen for words the signal important information.
    • Tips for improving your listening skills can be found at: 
      • UC Berkeley (scroll down to "A System for Effective Listening and Note-taking") 
    • How good are your listening habits? Check out the ten bad listening habits
  2. Write
    • Bring pencils and paper to class and take Math notes in pencil, not pen.
    • Always use the same notebook to take note for your Math class. Your paper should be 8.5" by 11" in size.
    • Date each notebook entry.
    • Keep your Math notes separate from notes from your other courses.
    • Copy down everything that the instructor writes on the board. If the instructor takes the time to write something, it is important.
    • Take notes, even though your understanding may not be complete.
    • Develop a good note-taking system. Ideas for note-taking systems can be found here:
  3. Review
    • Review and reorganize your notes as soon as possible after class.
    • Write clearly and legibly.
    • Rewrite ideas in your own words.
    • Highlight important ideas, examples and issues with colored pens.
    • Review your class notes before the next class period.
    • Ask questions during office hours or the next class period if there are items that are unclear.
    • Review all your notes at least once per week to get a perspective on the course. 
  4. Reflect
    • Think about what you have written and connect it with other Math concepts.
    • Begin to remember definitions, procedures, concepts, theorems, and formulas that are in your notes.
    • Compare your lecture notes to the ideas, explanations and examples in the textbook.