How to Take Notes Like a Pro 

How to Take Notes Like a Pro 
Sergio Guevara

Sergio Guevara

Head of Client Success at Gradehacker

Updated February 3, 2022

Note-taking is an essential part of every college experience. You know what they say: if you have great notes, you will get a good grade. This means you have to learn how to take notes like a pro. These tips will help you be organized and concentrate on articulating thoughts and achieving college success. 

The Gradehacker team wants you to take better notes and concentrate fully on the classes you need. We have heard from our clients that taking notes is often boring and tiresome, but they don’t have to be that way if you have the right techniques.

Notes can help you understand complicated concepts, memorize specific information, and organize your thoughts. You shouldn’t take notes without a practical end to them. This means that when you are taking your handwritten notes, you should think about how and why you are going to use them. 

Whenever you start the note taking process, ask yourself: why do I need these notes? 

That approach will help you achieve better-centered notes with a specific purpose that will be useful later.

What skills you will gain if you take better notes?

Remember that note-taking is not exclusive. You can write your notes on your laptop, iPad, sketchbook, whatever works best for you. The important thing is that your notes align with what you’re learning and your thought processes.  

No matter where you take your notes, try to concentrate all your notes into ONE central place, so you don’t have your notes scattered all over the place.

There are a few effective note-taking methods. Let’s review them!

1) To be organized, try with The Outline Method

This method is pretty simple and widely used by college students. The outline method allows you to organize your notes and thoughts in a structured form, helping you save time and further editing your notes. 

You will be using bullet points to represent different topics and their subtopics. Using indents, you can start writing main topics on the far left of the page to add subtopics in a bullet list later.

The best time to use this method is when you are in a class with a clear structure.

Outline Method How to Take Notes Like a Pro 2022

PROS of the outline method

CONS of the outline method

2) Divide and conquer with The Cornell Method

Oh yes! Everybody loves the Cornell method, and that’s why it is easy to use, and it has the best results. Basically, you divide your blank page into two areas. One side is where you will write your class notes, concepts, relevant information, and tips. 

On the other side, write useful questions that will help you prepare for tests and quizzes; however, you don’t have to stick with questions. The second side can function as a starting point where you can put every bit of helpful information. The prompt of this method is to help you recognize and associate keywords with other key concepts.

This method looks like this.

Cornell Method How to Take Notes Like a Pro 2022

Pros of The Cornell Method

Cons The Cornell Method

3) To take digital notes, The Boxing Method is the best option

This method comes in handy if you are the type of person who likes to take notes on an iPad or laptop. All notes with similar concepts and key points are grouped in a box with this method. This is a very effective way to group a block of information visually, so you don’t have to lose the information in thousands of words and text. 

Which is the best notetaking app for this? Well, we recommend Goodnotes or Evernote, which allow you to organize your notes in larger or smaller blocks. In this way, you can arrange your blocks as you prefer, without losing the organization and effectiveness of the information.

Boxing Method How to Take Notes Like a Pro 2022

Pros The Boxing Method

Cons The Cornell Method

4) For visual learners taking notes, the Mapping Method is the way to go

This is one of the most creative methods to take notes like a pro. This method is the best for when you need to summarize a lot in a visually pleasing way. With the mapping method, you can start from a central idea or topic and then create branching with subtopics that help you better understand the topic. 

This is the most visual of all the methods, allowing you to organize the information in the most creative way possible. The limit of this method is your imagination: you can use colors, figures, or drawings to maximize the retention of information.

Pros of The Mapping Method

Cons of the mapping method

Mapping Method How to Take Notes Like a Pro 2022

If you already know that you’re a visual student or want to improve your skills, we have an article entirely dedicated to showing you the best ways to study as a visual learner.

Taking notes: some last tips for you

Note-taking is one of the most critical parts of your learning. Being rigorous with your notes will help you improve your productivity, focus on your work, and organize your ideas. Think about it, if you do not take appropriate notes to your learning method, how can you retain the information? Memory is fragile, even more so if you are a busy college student. 

Since we know you are looking for more ways to improve your productivity, why don’t you take a look at more of our articles? Surviving college can be easier if you take the right approach.

Sergio Guevara

Sergio Guevara

Sergio Guevara has been an avid essay writer and researcher for Gradehacker since 2018. He has helped countless non-traditional students with a plethora of subjects like literature, nursing, and history. Now as the head of the Client Success Team he’s constantly involved with SEO-driven content that can make the life of both non-traditional and traditional college students much easier. You can find him on LinkedIn