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Note-taking should be performed over several stages — from your initial introduction to the subject material to your final review before an exam.  

Pre-lecture reading

When reading new material, underline or highlight unfamiliar terms. Outline the main ideas or topics covered.  

Tip: Bring your outline to class and continue making notes on it.

During lecture

Note down any material that wasn’t covered in the readings. Paying attention to what the lecturer emphasises or says is important. 

Tip: Print the slides in advance and annotate them during the lecture. 


Chances are the notes you take during the lecture will be a bit messy and disorganised. Take a few minutes to go over your pre-lecture/reading notes and the notes taken during the lecture (along with the slides if you have them). Then, make a neat set of notes, organising topics together. 

Final review notes: 

At the end of the week or module, gather your post-lecture notes and synthesise them: 

  • remove any repetition
  • group topics and themes together
  • highlight key terms or ideas.  

Tip: Use these notes when it’s time to review for exams. 

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Still have questions? Do you want to talk to an expert? Peer Learning Advisors or Academic Skills and Language Advisors are available.