Studying at University is about engaging with all that material in multiple ways. The textbook, along with lecture slides and notes can be more helpful than you think- That’s if you know how to take notes effectively! Reading a textbook cover to cover is no way to prepare for an exam.

Taking notes from a textbook is an important skill that leads to less stress and better grades come exam time. We’ve come up with 10 handy tips to save you time and money.


10 Tips to Make Great Notes

  1. Use your own words and phrases, and keep them brief – Aid: Memorisation & retention of set of information 
  2. Actively engage. So write and read your notes aloud – Aid: Memorisation 
  3. Use other sources to clarify trouble topics or questions. Often other textbooks, google, youtube, or notes may be better on different topics. Aid: Avoid getting bogged down 
  4. Understand and focus on bolded words/topics. Aid: These are “must knows” come exams
  5. Look for diagrams that help summarize information and create your own flow charts and illustrations. Aids: The act of drawing a diagram will in itself help to reinforce the concept, and help you down the track to reengage with the material. 
  6. Examiners love using the textbook chapter questions, albeit with changing numbers to test you. Make sure you use these questions as practise, and seek clarification on trouble problems. Aid: Improve your marks
  7. Create an outline with your textbook notes and use lecture notes to get the full picture. Aid: Understanding the big picture, helps make the smaller details more relevant.
  8. Use brief yet descriptive phrases for concepts that act as trigger words. Aid: Recollection
  9. Circle, and highlight key concepts with different colours to add emphasis. Aid: Your eyes are trained to focus on points of difference, rather than blogs of info. 
  10. If you get the notes from a textbook right once, that should be it. So save yourself some money, by borrowing the textbook from the library and save yourself some time by spending a little extra time making sure you nail it! You win in the long run.



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