How to take really good notes

In this English for Life episode, Cara gives you some note-taking methods to help you take notes you’ll actually be able to understand when you come back to them. 

Do you struggle to take notes?

Everyone has to take notes at some point in their life, but doing it effectively is the key. How many of you have started taking notes in a meeting or in an English class and then missed something important that was said? Or, how many of your have found yourselves in a situation where you were so busy writing down notes when you go to read them, you haven’t got a clue what they say.

Now, I know a lot of us know the basic skills for taking notes: bullet points and writing out sentences.

But I’ve just started a master’s degree and I’ve learned some new notetaking tips that I want to share with you today.

The first tip is called the mind mapping method.

Now, I’m sure we have all heard about this before. This is especially great for creative meetings and brainstorming ideas where you draw out what you are talking about. This helps you visualise your meeting.

The second tip is called the Cornell Method.

This was something new to me and since starting my master’s I’ve been using it a lot.

You draw a T shape on your page. I like to add an overview or aims of my meeting section at the top, and then you put your keywords phrases, dates, or times on one side and all of the main notes on the other. After your class, write a short summary at the bottom.

Our final note-taking method today is a table method.

This usually works if you have a little bit more time to prepare before class or if you know exactly what you’re going to talk about. You start by drawing out a table for your lessons. You can then put headings like vocabulary, grammar, prepositions, and anything that comes up in class.  After class, you’ve got clear legible notes to use.

Try out a couple of the methods and see what works for you!

If you’d like to practise some of the note-taking methods Cara spoke about, have a go at these exercises. 

Find out more about our flexible online English courses here