Monday Master Class: The Study Hacks Guide to Note-Taking

Note the Importance of NotesNotes

Taking notes is arguably the most important step of the student academic process. Both in class and while tackling a reading assignment, your notes represent the primary filter between the raw information hurtling at you and what you’ll later attempt to review, learn, and, eventually, regurgitate on a test or paper. I am surprised, therefore, by how many students never give this step any serious consideration: they’re content to simply jot down information in whatever random fashion suits them at the moment.

I shudder at the thought of the unnecessary pain this induces.

In this post, I describe some of the most important note-taking strategies to grace the digital pages of Study Hacks. Take a look. If you master this step, you’ll enjoy significant improvements to your academic life.

A Study Hacks Crash Course on Smart Note-Taking

Why Most Students Don’t Understand the Real Goal of Note-Taking
A classic article from the early days of Study Hacks. It lays out my core philosophy on how to take notes well. You can use its “Three Laws of Reduced Study Time Note-Taking” as a general framework for the construction of your own customized note solution.

Part 2 in 60 Seconds or Less (or, The Q/E/C Note-Taking Method)
Another classic article. It summarizes the main philosophy driving Part 2 — Quizzes & Exams — of my book How to Become a Straight-A Student. What makes it relevant to this post is that it describes the famed Question/Evidence/Conclusion note-taking system that I first introduced in my book and now reference all the time here on Study Hacks.

Accelerate Q/E/C Note-Taking
A technical article that describes how to use Word short-cuts to accelerate Question/Evidence/Conclusion note-taking on your laptop.

Rapid Note-Taking With the Morse Code Method
A steamlined note-taking variant for long reading assignments that need to be completed in a short amount of time.

The Art of Pseudo-Skimming
An even more streamlined note-taking approach for articles that only need to be reviewed, not mastered, before class.

How to Read Hard Readings
This post introduces “strategic pre-processing” as a technique for conquering outrageously dense and complicated reading assignments.

How to Take Notes on Power Point Slides
Technical tips for taking efficient notes on lectures that are driven by Power Point slides. Take a look at the readers’ comments, which introduce some interesting twists on my advice.

12 thoughts on “Monday Master Class: The Study Hacks Guide to Note-Taking”

  1. I just turned on my computer a few minutes ago to find tips on note-taking strategies. Then I pass by your blog and… can you read my mind? 😉

    Thanks a lot!

  2. Hello,
    I’m an IB student and have major problems with notetaking from books. I tried the Q/E/C for History, but it took me 2 hours to get through 4 pages. Is it just that I need to “speed up” my reading, or do you have any other suggestions? It feels that I would be much more efficient, and that I would learn more, just using highlighters :/


  3. I’m curious after reading some of your ideas from the post about the applicability of these techniques in capturing and processing effective notes from video courses/youtube videos. (Background: I am a web developer trying to get really good at frontend development with access to video courses and youtube for help).


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