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How Home Schooled Students Take Great Notes

Even with the best of memories, mnemonic devices, and learning strategies, no one can remember everything they read.

But it’s also unnecessary to remember it all.

Learning is, in part, figuring out what information is important and what isn’t. 

Taking great notes will provide a fantastic guide to effectively learning what’s important, without wasting time on what isn’t. 

Writing Down Key Information

When it comes to note-taking, what you write down is just as important as what you don’t. 

Omitting unimportant information will make your notes easier to read and recall. 

Deciding what bits of information are important or not can take some practice, but if you follow these general tips, you should do alright:

  • Copy – if the teacher writes something down on the board, that’s key information
  • Dates – dates are often used as questions on quizzes and examples. When you hear a date, consider writing it down
  • Proper Nouns – Pay attention to proper nouns during class and while taking notes from a book. 
  • Flow – consider the flow of your notes when you’re writing them down. Ask yourself, “Is this going to flow smoothly from point to point when I read this later?” If not, consider adding more information that connects as many dots as possible. 

Reading The Clues

Sometimes, teachers and tutors will give hints throughout their lessons, suggesting the current topic is likely to be on an exam. 

The longer you are in class with a teacher, the more you’ll be able to notice these clues. A few include: repeating specific sentences – especially if it’s verbatim, raising their voice when saying particular words, or they might simply say it will be on the exam outright. 

Rewrite Your Notes

Simply rewriting your notes after you’ve taken them, say as extra work at the end of the day, will help generate sharper notes, and it also provides excellent recall practice. 

As you’re rewriting your notes, you know where the information is going and can remove things that aren’t important and highlight other more important things – thing you may not have realized were important intially. 

Use Symbols and Abbreviations for Brevity

Symbols and abbreviations are vital to speedy note-taking. 

“And” is often replaced with “+” or “&”

“Equal” has “=” 

“With” has “w/”

As you develop your own style, you’ll find other replacements depending on your preferences and the subject. 

Symbols like stars or unlining words or phrases mean something is a priority. 

But, don’t overdo it! If everything is underlined, it’s the same as nothing being underlined. 


Colored pens or highlighters can create quick and effective study sessions. Liked ideas can be grouped together with one color. Clear, colored groupings are very important when studying for science-based classes (as they often deal with categories and clusters). 

Be consistent as you can with your colors between lessons and subjects. If colors are random every time, it won’t provide the clarity we want. 

Don’t Worry About Spelling and Grammar… sort of

Concise notes are easy to read and provide the greatest amount of recall. Sometimes, to keep our notes as barebones as possible, we can forgo proper spelling and grammar. 

You never want to sacrifice clarity. For example, if you’re learning about the different kinds of mammals, you wouldn’t want to shorten “Marsupials” to something else because you probably need to know how to spell it for the test, and it makes it feel like it’s something that’s not a priority. 

If the proper spelling of something is important, but you miss it while taking the notes, you can use the time you rewrite them to correct that mistake. 

Good notes aren’t challenging to produce as long as you know some of the basics. The point of notes is to streamline the repetitive nature of learning, and these tips can help you with that. 

But remember that you’re an individual, and you should be curious about the best way for you to take notes that help you be the best student you can be.