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The Importance of Note Taking Skills

by Neil Kokemuller

Note taking skills are critical in secondary school and college settings. Effective listening, clear handwriting, organized outlines and recording of key points are among the most critical note taking skills. Students can often work with guidance counselors or certain instructors to improve skills. Skilled note taking enhances academic success.

Active Learning

One of the central reasons note taking helps students achieve better learning and academic results is that it is a hands-on learning process. Hands-on learning is one of three common learning styles. The others are auditory and visual. Actively engaging in learning by listening and then writing down what you hear or interpret aids in knowledge growth and retention. In some cases, students can retain and apply information without even reviewing notes because of the active learning process.

Record Keeping

Notes also provide a history or record of the things that you learn in a class. Aside from the academic benefits you gain from note taking skills, you can also better preserve what you learn. In some professions, students hold onto college class notes and refer to them in the early years of their work. Medical school students, for instance, might keep organized note files to reference in unusual patient scenarios when they practice medicine. Organized, easy to read and thorough notes are necessary to make records useful.


One of the most direct reasons note taking skills are important is because effective notes usually serve as one of your best study aids for tests. Organized, detailed notes allow you to review the key points discussed in a class. While reading text materials is important, notes taken during class and through reading typically present a more concise view of key concepts. Marking specific lecture notes as "important" or "to appear on the test" helps you realize where to focus study energy.

Skill Building

The educational process is evolutionary. Students theoretically expand on developed skills along with gaining new ones. While teachers and other supporting materials help in expanding skills, effective, thorough notes also provide a valuable resource. In math, for instance, students learning division may refer to multiplication notes to deduce the process of dividing by referencing how two factors when multiplied form a product.