5 Note-Taking Methods For College Students That Truly Work

by | Sep 23, 2016 | Creative, Education

(Updated: August 5th, 2020)

If you dread taking notes in class because you know you’ll never make sense out of your frantic scrawls later on, this article is for you.

Taking notes is not just an excellent prophylactic against sleeping in front of your teacher, it’s also a tried and tested way to make friends and be the smart, yet popular student –whose school notes everyone wants to borrow.

On a more serious note though, knowing how to take notes effectively and efficiently will not only improve your retention rates in school, but make you a much smarter learner for life. Pair these note-taking methods with NoteLedge, and you’ll smash every learning curve thrown at you!

Cornell Notes

One of the most common note-taking methods taught in schools, Cornell Note-taking uses  detailed notes in a wide, main column, with key themes, questions, and a brief summary in separate sections.

Because this method is very word-dense, Cornell Notes provide excellent level of detail, making it ideal for open-book examinations. It also doubles up as a  post-lecture review, or pre-examination revision tool where higher level of detail is called for.

For a detailed guide on how to take better notes with the Cornell Method, check out our very own Cornell Notes template.

Cornell Notes Template biology

Extend your understanding beyond traditional pen and paper. With NoteLedge, you can add whole new dimensions of detail to your Cornell Notes with images, audio, and even video clips.

Cornell Notes Template History

Having trouble keeping track of your online learning? Now you can take notes on NoteLedge for Windows and switch effortlessly between desktop and mobile devices as you learn on the go.    

Bullet Journals

There’s a reason why Buzzfeed and Gawker are rife with “Top 10 [X]” articles, also known as ‘listicles’. Lists of bulleted points make for quick, convenient reading, and an odd sense of satisfaction when you reach the end of a list.

You can add gorgeous, personalized Bullet Journals to your note-taking and checklist arsenals with NoteLedge. Just make sure to use different colours to sort the lists into different categories for easy identification.

For more ideas on how to make your Bullet Journals stand out from the rest with NoteLedge, be sure to check out our very own Bullet Journal guide in the link above.

bullet journal
Whether it’s different bullets for separate categories or color coding for prioritization, NoteLedge lets you do it all!

Pro Tips: You can easily track your routine with a bullet journal habit tracker. 

Mind Maps

Mind mapping, a technique popularized in the 70’s by Tony Buzan, allows you to develop not just broad perspective of your field, but brainstorming skills as well. These Mind maps let you visualize links between disparate ideas – an ability that forms the bedrock of most innovation.

Using NoteLedge, you can create a virtually limitless — and very colorful — mind map record of all stages in your projects, brainstorming sessions and thesis development. This is a must-have for any design-focused course or long-term project that needs evaluation at every stage.

What’s more, you can share your NoteLedge maps with group members, assigning each one a different color code for comments. This makes it easy to identify free riders in project-work teams, making NoteLedge the ideal project notes app for both students and educators.


Charting Method 

When it comes to making comparisons, nothing beats the Charting Method. If you have checked out spec comparisons for phone models, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Questions comparing differences and similarities occur in almost every subject, so make sure you add Charting to your note taking tool-kit. Next time your lecturer says, “The difference between X and Y is…” that’s your cue to start drawing columns in NoteLedge!

Charting Method
A Wild comparison appears! Charting Method is super effective!

Smart Learning

Ultimately, note-taking favors the path of least resistance. If you struggle to memorize the many arcane symbols and abbreviations you’ve invented for yourself to take “smarter notes”, you are smartly siphoning off precious time and energy from your core subjects.

Keep your notation simple, and NoteLedge takes care of the rest.

In fact, it’s the best way to take care of the new wave in education everyone talks about but has NO IDEA how to implement.

That’s right, we’re talking about flipped classrooms here! If you’re struggling to turn your class into the truly collaborative learning machine that it should be, then struggle no more.

NoteLedge is available on iOSMacAndroid, and Windows. The app allows you to work across devices with cloud services. Download NoteLedge for free to try out these note-taking methods for yourself!

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