How to Take Good Lecture Notes

A photo of a lecture hall with a lecturer talking at the front and students sprinkled across the seats which are red and grey

Taking good lecture notes is much easier than it was, thanks to advances in tech. 

Back in the 1990s, students relied on fountain pens, A4 lined paper and ring binders to produce lecture notes and essays. Not to mention the burdensome task of lugging heavy books in and out of lecture halls. And all before there was easy access to Google for key information. 

So how can you make sure you’re taking good lecture notes today? Well, until AI creates a way to implant knowledge into your brain, you’ll need to apply some practices to gain the most out of any note-taking tech. 

So, we’ve compiled a list of top tips to help you become a great note-taker: 

Choose a Method

Before taking any notes, it’s a good idea to choose a framework to work with. You may need to experiment a bit to find a process that works best for you. And to kick you off, here are a few methods you may want to consider: 

  • Cornell method: This divides a note-taking page into three sections. And this helps you to organise key points, capture the right details and summarise each point. 
  • Mapping method: Great for visual learners, the mapping method helps you to make connections between ideas.
  • Sentence method: For quick thinkers, the Sentence Method encourages you to condense information into a sentence, in real-time. And this makes it easier to understand your notes when you return to them.

Pay Attention

The main thing when attending lectures is to be actively engaged with them. It’s no good showing up and sitting there – you must work with the information you’re given.

And the good news is that studies say note-taking while listening promotes a higher level of cognitive processing. So, by actively listening during lectures and developing your note-taking style, you may find it could help you develop additional skills such as interpretation and decision-making.

Be Concise

Whichever method you choose, aim to capture the main points while noting the supporting facts and examples. Jotting down phrases or using abbreviations or codes can also help. 

In fact, Caption.Ed can help you flag key sections of your transcripts as ‘Important’. And it can also give you the tools to add information and annotations, all of which are time-stamped to your transcript.

Free Trial: Get Full Access To Caption.Ed For Free!

Highlight Sources and References

Along with keeping things brief, you’ll need to highlight your sources and references. 

So, try to experiment with different ways to do this. For example, you could use colour coding or symbols to highlight the sources. You could also differentiate between sources using a table or chart. 

Whichever style you choose, taking good lecture notes depends on accurate record-keeping. So, make sure to always reference your sources when taking notes.

Review Notes Within 24 Hours

Back in 1975, researchers Carter and Van Matre analysed the note-taking of 172 undergraduate students

Their analysis revealed that students who reviewed notes after taking them outperformed those who only took notes. 

And that’s the other great thing about Caption.Ed – it allows users to revisit past sessions in their Caption.Ed library. So, if you’re taking notes or using transcriptions, you’ll have the benefit of going back to them, again and again, for a chance to absorb that information and increase the benefits of note-taking.

Best of luck with your note-taking! And remember, you can get a free trial of Caption.Ed to find out how it could support you with taking good lecture notes. 

FREE TRIAL. Get full access to Caption.Ed for 30 days for free. Sign up now.