Why Take Notes?

Writing down notes as an aid to jog your memory to recall what you read is always a great idea. To help you save time and effort in the long run, you may have to change your thinking about when you usually read text material—from normally after a lecture on the same topic or just before a test, to just before you go to class for the lecture. Begin to think of the lecture part of class time as review of concepts you have already learned in your mind. When your teacher assigns reading in preparation for the next class, it is your advantage to follow through and read the material as suggested, because this:


  • Enables you to take notes in a more relaxed atmosphere during your study time at home a day or so before you sit through the lecture in class. You will have all the time you need to make good, effective notes.
  • Provides the time you need to understand and learn new information, not just jot down notes in class only to really “learn them later.”
  • Provides you with an excellent “listening guide” when you take these notes into class.
  • Gives you time to become acquainted with new vocabulary words; their definitions and how they are used; new concepts and details; and an overview of new material and how it all “fits together.”


 All too often, students do not read and take text notes ahead, only to find taking class notes from lectures very frustrating. They try to simultaneously write down what is presented in class and hear it for the first time. Most students who function this way often find themselves leaving class in a daze and muttering that they didn’t understand anything and they will “learn it later” when they review their notes. This approach works against comprehension and memory skills, causes undue stress, increases study time, and leads to a feeling of frustration rather than competence. In short, it’s doing it the hard way.


 Frender, G. (2004). Learning to learn. Nashville, TN: Incentive Publications