October 20, 2017 HSC marking

How to take notes

Note taking is a skill this isn’t really taught. You are just forced to work out how best to remember all the information that is thrown at you during the day – but often walk away with a notebook filled with scribbles that mean nothing when you read it back weeks later.

Here are 5 of the most effective note taking strategies to help you write awesome notes:

1. The Cornell Method

Divide your page in to 3 parts.

At the top will be a big open section for notes that you take during class. Write everything down that you think will be important.

In the second section, you re-write the most important parts again. This happens after class, when you can re-read your notes and find the key parts.

The final section will be a summary – write a paragraph summarising the notes from the day, so that in a month or so when you need those notes you can just read the summary to see if it is valuable to you.

2. Use a flow chart

Write the subject at the top, then use a flow chart to break it down. Each page is organised by topic, but then gets refined in to sub-topics as the flow chart goes along.

This is an excellent method for visual learners!

3. The dot point method

Similar to the flow chart above, you use dot points to list all the important parts of a subject.

Give it a main heading, then sub headings and then dot points under each of those.

Really simple and effective in the lead up to exams.

4. Keep things simple

This isn’t really a unique method, but is a general rule when it come to taking notes.

The point of notes is two fold. One is for you to be able to remember them and the second is so you can look back over them in a few months time and catch up at a glance.

The simpler the better.

5. Find what works for you

Some people colour code with highlighters. Some underline furiously. You need to find what is going to work best for you via trial and error.

Try a flow chart and see how it feels. Try breaking your page up in to 3’s.

Ultimately the real test will come in a few months when you need to revise your notes – and you can test how easy it is to understand what you are trying to convey.


Note taking is a huge part of year 12, so owning the process is really important. Keep practicing and master it!

Nic Rothquel

Founder, HSCmarking.com.au

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