Note-Taking Strategies

Determine which of the following note-taking methods is best for you, and then tailor the method to your tastes and preferences. Also, take some time to read over the note-taking tips below to further fine-tune the process. 

Method One

Here, you will prepare a skeletal outline by organizing your table of contents based on the syllabus. Then, you'll fill in the skeletal outline with your notes and case briefs. You will condense your notes throughout the semester, creating an outline you can use to prepare for the final exam.

Method Two

With this method, you will prepare for each class by creating case briefs and taking notes on the information. At the end of each chapter or section, you will take notes and combine them to form an outline. There are three common variations:

Two-Column System

  • Use two-column notebook paper and record notes on the right side of the page and summarize the notes on the left side of the page using keywords.

Single-Page System

  • Use a single piece of paper to record notes and brief cases. Use one side of the paper for the case brief and use the other side of the piece of paper for recording notes prior to, during, and after class.

Bullet-Point System

  • When taking notes, simply put the information into a Word document or on a piece of notebook paper using bullet points.

Note-Taking Tips

  • Don’t try to write everything down. Focus on paying attention to the process through which the professor takes the class.
     
  • Pay special attention to hypothetical questions posed by your professor. You'll often see them again on final exams.
     
  • Note any “terms of art” or concepts that the professor mentions. Often, you will notice that these “terms of art” are chapter or section headings.
     
  • If a professor states the rule from the case, make sure that you have it in the same language in your notes. This goes for any exceptions to rules as well. An "A" student will be able to provide not only the rule, but also any exceptions.
     
  • Note any specific comments made by your professor, and be able to differentiate your professor’s comments from student comments.
     
  • Be organized and flexible. Choose a note-taking system that works with your learning style and the course materials.