Listen Up: How to Effectively Take Notes During a Lecture

By Brittany Loeffler on August 11, 2017

One of the most common struggles college students experience is taking notes during a lecture. It can be overwhelming to try to write down everything the professor is saying at lightning speed because we don’t want to miss a thing.

I think we’ve all had that terrible hand cramping experience right before the professor tells you something important about the next exam. Thankfully, there are ways to enhance your listening skills to effectively take notes during a lecture.

via Pixabay

Positive attitude

It’s asking a lot of a college student to go to their 8 a.m. class with a positive attitude, but it will definitely make a difference while taking notes during a lecture. After a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast, students are awake and alert during the lecture so they can focus and pay close attention to what the professor is teaching.

Don’t walk into the lecture hall with an attitude that today you won’t take notes because the professor talks a mile a minute. Go in with the attitude that you are going to capture every important point your professor makes with your newly learned tips for effectively taking notes during a lecture.

via Pixabay

Typing vs. Handwriting

This is a conflict most students face when it comes to taking notes during a lecture. Typing has always been quicker than handwriting things. However, a commonly known study states that when people handwrite information, they are more likely to remember it. As you can see, this causes a struggle between typing and handwriting for the note taker.

You are able to keep up with the professor easier when typing notes, but it is more likely that you will remember the material better if you handwrite them. I suggest typing the notes, then when you review the notes after class, handwrite the important information into a notebook.

Symbols & Abbreviations

Whether you are typing or handwriting your notes during a lecture, using symbols or abbreviations can decrease the amount of time you spend on one thought or concept tremendously. Find the best symbols and abbreviations that work for you and are easy for you to understand. It’s important that you can decipher your notes when you look back at them after class and before your exams.

via Pixabay

Don’t write in complete sentences

Your professor will be speaking in complete sentences while lecturing, but that does not mean that you have to write down word for word what he says. Leave out simple words such as “the,” “and,” and “in.” These words can slow you down if you are handwriting or typing the lecture notes.

Bullet points are an effective way of taking notes during a lecture because instead of complete sentences, you are making a list of things your professor is talking about.


Summarize a concept your professor is teaching. As I just mentioned, don’t write down the lecture word for word. Write down two or three summarized lines per point your professor makes during the lecture.

After class when you are looking back at your notes, it’s a good idea to write a summary of the lecture at the end in complete sentences. This allows you to reflect on what you just learned and take the time to write it down more thoroughly without feeling rushed to keep up. This also allows you to glance over the topics while studying and keep yourself organized.

via Pixabay

Focus on content, not presentation

Sometimes it is difficult to look past the deliverance of the lecture. Your professor may be extremely animated and run across the room in excitement over that day’s lesson, or he may be dull and speak in a monotone voice. Either way, it is important to focus on what is being said rather than on how it is being said. Don’t let the presentation of the lecture distract you from the important information that is being passed along to you.

Listen for verbal cues

While not paying too close attention to the presentation of the lecture, it is also important to keep an ear out for verbal cues for important information. Sometimes professors will throw you a bone and let you know that an important piece of information will be on the exam, so it’s important to write that down.

If your professor repeats a sentence or phrase, this signals it is an important piece of information. Pay attention to if your professor is speaking slower than he normally does because if so, he is giving you some important information.

By Brittany Loeffler

Uloop Writer
Brittany is a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing at Temple University. After growing up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, she found her calling in the streets of the big city of Philadelphia. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, movies, baking, and photography.

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