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Student Learning Success Toolbox: Note-Taking

A guide to library resources and services for students at Community College

Who can help me at ACC?

How do I learn how to take good notes?

Do you want to learn how to take good notes?

Active listening

  • summarize key points
  • compare what is said to what you found in the textbook
  • apply what you hear to your own personal experience
  • figure out what can be ignored

Practice makes perfect!

Learning your professor's teaching style

Some professors-

  • give an outline at the beginning of a lecture
  • review what was talked about the week before
  • tie up all the loose ends at the end of a lecture
  • hint about what the focus of the next lecture
  • use humour; others tell stories
  • repeat information that they find important
  • use lots of examples
  • rephrase what is said into different words to give you time to capture the idea


Most teachers speak more quickly than note-takers write their notes.


  • repeat the central ideas,
  • rephrase them, or
  • elaborate them over an extended period of time,

for the purposes of emphasizing them for smart students.

Other teachers will offer a series of examples to help you understand new ideas. 

Read the assigned readings before the lecture

Read the chapter before class and take enough notes or outline it.

After class is over, check to make your chapter notes better.

Real learning happens after you are home comparing your chapter notes to the lecture notes.

Review your notes regularly and cumulatively

Look for repetition and relationships of different lectures.

It helps you "see the big picture" and makes note-taking a regular part of your study habits.

Books at ACC Libraries

Recommended Apps

Cornell Note Taking System

Download and print these instructions and a note taking template for your classes from ACC Academic Coaching:

Note taking in 3 easy steps

Learn How to Take Minutes

Learning how to take notes is an important skill in the workplace. Employees often are asked to take down the minutes at a meeting.

Watch a video on Note-taking from Films on Demand database

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