Studying Effectively
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Taking useful notes

Students take notes in lectures in many different ways and during your first few weeks at The University of Nottingham you may want to review your strategies for note-taking. If mind-mapping or diagrammatic notes are more suitable for you, do not feel you have to take linear, text-based notes. Here are some strategies that others have found useful.


  • Use a ring binder - so you can integrate your own handwritten notes with any handout materials you may be given
  • Use a margin down the left hand side so that you can make revision notes and comments down the left of your page.  You may want to look at the Cornell system of notetaking.
  • Aim to capture the main points and note below each main point related supporting facts and illustrative examples
  • If you use colour coding, be consistent - this can be very helpful in organising your thoughts and may also be something that you can add to immediately after the lecture
  • Use abbreviations - some subjects have abbreviations or symbols for common terms and concepts.  These can save you time when taking notes. Ask your friends and lecturers what shorthand they use. 

What to do with your notes

  • Check your notes soon after the lecture making sure key points are clearly identified. You may need to use a system for emphasising these most important elements e.g. circle or underline them.
  • Some students can find it helpful to review notes within 24 hours - actively work with the material and aim to reduce your notes to a short overview (e.g. a single mind-map, or a small number of key bullet-points). Actively engaging with the ideas and information can help move them from your short term to long term memory.
  • Produce summary notes - by further reduction or re-organising along a time-line or themed grouping - again this working with the information will help your understanding and your ability to retain the information and concepts that you have been taught.

Hear from some students

Top Study Tips (making additional notes from readings on lecture notes)

"What would you pass on to a new student arriving at the university in terms of best ways of woking you have found?" 

"Well I found a really interesting way of work, I found it in my second year ..."



Top Tip (using provided lecture notes)

"My top study tip would be to go into lectures either having read over the lecture material or having printed it out before hand ..."



Going to lectures and taking lecture notes

"Obviously lectures are the most important part of university academic life and it varies week by week how many you get ..."



Keeping notes

"I think keeping notes accurately and in an organised fashion is quite important and you shouldn't be ashamed to do that..."


Studying Effectively

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