8 Effective Note Taking Strategies for High School Students

As students move from middle school to high school, they face many changes. One important skill they need to develop is effective note-taking.
As high school students, you are expected to be able to take good notes. Your notes will be key study tools that you can use to review for quizzes and tests.
Taking notes should help students learn more easily and remember difficult concepts that their teachers teach. Our aim when tutoring students is to teach them some essential tips that will help them remember what they learn and study more efficiently. Here are 8 note taking strategies that are helpful for high school students.

Table of Contents

8 Note-Taking Strategies High School Students Can Use

#1. Bullet Points/Bullet Journaling

A very effective strategy for note taking while studying is using bullet points.
Using bullet points will allow you to formulate thoughts and record notes more effectively. Using this note-taking method will also improve your ability to focus on key ideas and take better notes.
To start, you would first need to be able to identify major topics, points, subjects, or problems to serve as the index. Then you can quickly jot down notes for each point to serve as a quick reference.
For example: If you are learning about chemical bonds in chemistry then your bullet journal should look like this.
Covalent Bond
  • Involves the sharing of electrons to form electron pairs between atoms
  • Stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces
  • Also known as shared pairs or bonding pairs
Ionic Bonding
  • Type of chemical bonding
  • Involves electrostatic attraction
  • 2 atoms with different electronegativities
Metallic Bonding
  • Type of chemical bonding
  • Positively charged metal ions
  • Attractive force between elections and metal ions
Bullet point note taking is not just an effective method for studying in high school, but can also be used to manage your day to day activities and more! While this note-taking tip method seems simple, most middle and high school students have not been taught how to properly use this method.

#2. Visual Note-Taking / Doodle Notes

Visual note-taking employs images, structuring, connectors, and text to capture information in a way that is meaningful to the note-taker and facilitates quick and easy understanding of the information.
We can all agree that every high school student learns differently. Some learn better from reading, others learn better when shown. Visual note-taking is an effective note taking strategy that is not typically taught in school because it can be seen as doodling.
When used properly, visual note taking can help students to stay engaged in studying, remember more information, improve their ability to organize thoughts and connect details.

#3. Mind Mapping | Concept Mapping Strategy

The mind mapping strategy is similar to the visual note taking strategy, but not the same. It helps students to map out their thoughts, concepts, and ideas.
Start by writing the main idea of what you are reading or learning in the middle of a page. As you keep reading, add related terms, phrases, and ideas around it. Use lines or arrows to connect the supporting concepts to the main idea.
This is a very effective note-taking method as it helps school students learn by allowing them to construct their own understanding of concepts or subjects. Concept mapping can also help teachers and parents identify where or what students are not understanding.

#4. Quiz Yourself!

Creating your own practice questions and quizzes can help improve your understanding!
You can use your class materials in high school to make practice questions and quizzes. Many textbooks include practice questions at the end of each chapter, which can be a good place to start when creating a study guide. If creating paper quizzes seem too tedious, consider using a digital app like Quizlet! Quizlet is a free study tool app that you can use to create digital flashcards and practice quizzes. You can also use Quizlet to find existing flashcards and quizzes created by other users.

#5. Take Notes by Creating a Slideshow

Whether it is Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides, creating slideshows are a great way to take notes in high school.
Teachers use slideshows as a guideline to teach concepts and ideas, so why can’t students use it to take digital notes in high school?
There are many ways to use a slideshow to take notes, but the method we will discuss is to simply treat it like a presentation. Whatever the subject or topic that you are studying, imagine that you are going to have to present this information to someone. Google Slides has many features available allowing students to take notes creatively.
This is an effective strategy that students can enjoy while improving their note-taking skills.

#6. Color Coding Your Notes

Color actually has an effect on attention and memory!
Studies have shown that colors can help boost attention and even memory when used properly.
Red can help you to remember more facts and details.
When there is important information, make sure to write it in red in your notes.
Orange is a great secondary color to use for details of something important.
Yellow can help to identify smaller details of information worth noting.
Green is a great color to identify the beginning of an order, problem, solution, or phase.
Blue can promote creativity and is best used on complicated information or concepts that require further exploration and comprehension.
Using colors to take notes can keep you stay actively engaged during class. You should definitely try to add this to your note taking skills.

#7. Compare Your Notes with a Friend

Going over your notes with a friend and comparing what the two of you put down can help reinforce what you’re learning.
Taking notes can be hard, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.
After taking copious amounts of notes, try comparing your notes with a classmate. Going over your notes can help you and your friend find inaccuracies, errors, or missing information. This also gives you and your class mate an opportunity to discuss the concept with each other for a deeper understanding.
Cooperative learning is one of the best note taking strategies.

#8. Take Notes through Audio Recordings

Take your note taking skills to the next level with audio recording!
Handwritten notes are great, but audio notes can help too.
Sometimes reading and writing can be exhausting, so it is recommended to try a different form of note taking. If you have a cell phone, computer, or laptop, then it is safe to assume that you have a method to record audio. If you can record audio, then you have the power to record audio notes!
When you encounter important or note-worthy information while studying, you can record yourself reading that information out loud and using your phone or other device. After you have finished taking your notes through audio recordings, review them.
With this note taking process, you would have read the material, repeated the material, and heard it.

Effective Note Taking Tips for High School Teachers

We believe that teachers should teach note-taking and define the types of notes that students need to take. We also think it’s important for teachers to model how to take notes on a regular basis. If we prepare students to take effective notes, they will perform better. When students know what kinds of notes their teachers want them to take and if they have positive role models in their classes who also take notes.
Teaching note-taking skills can be challenging because many of the strategies are counterintuitive. We know from our own experience that what we naturally do when we take notes is often not what works best for learning.
We suggest that you give students some specific guidelines on how you would like them to take notes in your class. You may also consider modeling good note-taking during your lectures or presentations. In this way, students will learn exactly what kind of information they should write down while you are presenting.

Thank you!

Thank you for reading our 8 note taking strategies for high school students. We hope that you find it useful and add it to your study skills! Duc Dinh Center has taught, educated, and tutored many students for over 14 years. Taking notes is not a natural skill and we believe it must be taught and practiced. We don’t think students should simply be left alone to find and adopt a note-taking technique that is right for them.

Is your student struggling?

Is your child having difficulty in class, falling behind, requiring additional academic support, or assistance with test preparation? Duc Dinh Center is well-equipped with resources to help students of all ages and grade levels K-12. Our learning program is specifically designed to teach your child the skills and mindset to succeed independently. With our academic support services and personalized tutoring programs, we ensure your child will significantly improve their grades, proficiency, and confidence. You can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!