Note Taking Strategies

CaptureNotes and CaptureAudio are productivity tools designed to help you take more effective notes. A tool, though, is only as good as the skills of the person using it. For example, we probably can’t paint like Da Vinci or take pictures like Ansel Adams. But we can improve our skills with a little research and practice. The key for CaptureNotes and CaptureAudio users is to choose from the best note taking strategies and learn how to use them well. With practice, your notes can be the “Da Vinci” or “Ansel Adams” of your class!

Note Taking Strategies You Should Include:

  • Choose the Right Note Taking System
  • Get Better at Taking Notes
  • Fill in Gaps
  • Improve Your Listening Skills
  • Review Regularly

Choose the Right Note Taking System

As we wrote before, you have many options, including the Cornell Method, Sketch Notes and Mapping. You may need to try each of these note taking strategies to find the one that works best for you.
Pick a system and use it regularly. And one size does not fit all, so you may want to mix note taking strategies to fit your classes or projects. We prefer the Cornell Method overall, mainly because it’s so effective for review. Blending in some Sketch Notes or another one of the note taking strategies can also improve your learning and memory.

Get Better at Taking Notes

How did you learn to take notes? You probably never had formal training because you just started doing it when you were in junior high school. Now, though, you have access to tutorials and blogs to help you get better at taking notes. For example, you can easily learn shortcuts and abbreviations. You can learn how to concentrate, focusing on big ideas instead of writing everything verbatim. You can sit up front in class to remove distractions, hear more clearly and ask questions. Do you color code your notes? You can learn from others who have smart systems to help organization and learning. Incremental gains in your note taking strategies can reap huge long term gains.

Fill in Gaps

We advocate getting a study buddy or joining a study group. Why? You can compare notes, fill in gaps, update or augment areas you have, and most importantly, discuss & teach one another what you’re learning. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn, amazingly enough, so if you and your study group discuss to teach each other, everybody wins.

Improve Your Listening Skills

Have you heard the old adage “garbage in, garbage out”? It means that if you start with something weak, you end with something weak. If your listening skills are not sharp, you can’t take good notes. So learn how to listen. We already mentioned sitting up front – that’s one key tactic. Learn how to focus better, turn off all the distractions (no need to respond to text messages, emails and chats during class!). Take notes on a good device (not your laptop) or use good old pen & paper.

Review Regularly

The brain is a complex organ in the human body, and it can be ‘hacked’ to learn more in less time. For example, did you know the best time to review your notes is before going to sleep? Your brain rewires every night, so putting that fresh information on the conveyor belt is a great idea. Take notes during the day, then review them at night. Each time! Don’t wait to the mid-term or final exam to study. Review daily, then weekly. You’ll retain so much more.

Note Taking Strategies You Should Include to Make Better Grades

If you want to make better grades, start with a good note taking system. Experiment with new ideas and include the system elements that work best for you, from color coding to structure to reviews. Even within each system, you can get better at taking notes by using shortcuts or a good app. Work with other students to fill in the gaps of information you miss – it’s essential to have complete notes! Think about the lifelong benefits of having better listening skills. You’ll always be listening, so building a good foundation now is a permanent investment. And the final touch is review. If you read your notes at the end of each day, and again at the end of each week, you’ll simply learn it better. It’s a small bet with a big return. We hope all our CaptureNotes and CaptureAudio students move to the front of the class with these smart note taking strategies…


  • December 28, 2016, 3:44 PM  Reply

    What did we miss? Are there any tips or tricks we should have included that you have used to be more successful?

Leave a Comment