The Academic Success Center

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Note-Taking and Reading

This section provides information about taking notes in class and skills for reading textbooks.

Note-taking Basics

The style of each of your classes will vary greatly based on who teaches the concepts and skills and what you do in class to learn them. In many classes, a professor will present information while you are expected to take whatever notes will help you remember the content. But what actually makes for good note-taking? Is it how much you write, how you record notes, whether you use bullet lists, draw diagrams, or sketch comics? Review a short list of skills for taking good notes.

Note-taking Methods

Everyone has different methods of taking notes, and different methods can work better for certain subjects. Here are some examples of note-taking methods you can use:

Metacognitive Note-Taking Method
Metacognition is the process of recognizing about the way you thinking or learning about a topic. Reflection is a common way to engage in this process, which can help aid learning.

Other Note-Taking Methods
Adapted from © Oxford Learning

The Cornell Method - helps organize class notes into easily digestible summaries. This method is effective because the main points, details, study cues, and summary are all written in one place.

The Mapping Method - a more visual way to organize your class notes. This technique is useful when learning about relationships between topics.

The Outline Method - uses headings and bullet points to organize topics. This method is most useful when learning about topics that include a lot of detail.

The Charting Method - uses columns to organize information. This method is useful for lessons that cover a lot of facts or relationships between topics.

The Sentence Method -  simply writing down each topic as a jot note sentence. This method works well for fast paced lessons where a lot of information is being covered.

Use these How To Take Study Notes tips for a quick review of all five methods.

Note-Taking Apps

Microsoft OneNote - A place for students to take notes. All students have access to this through their Microsoft Office school account. 

Benefits of OneNote:

  1. It's free and students can have all their notes in one place.
  2. Modeled off a ring binder so it's divided into sections with subsections called "pages".
  3. Each page allows students to add the lecture notes. Students are also able to organize their notes by class. 
  4. Students can also drop in photos and add notes on the side.
  5. Dates are also automatically inputted.
  6. Students can include audio recordings and highlight notes.
How can I improve my reading for class?

Reading strategies

College level reading is not easy. Have you ever read something and you simply did not understand it no matter how hard you tried? Maybe you read it several times, took notes, or put some music on and it still didn’t make a difference. Use these five strategies to help you understand difficult reading assignments.

SQR3: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review


  1. Read the introduction to the chapter, and glance at the section headings and figures
  2. Briefly read the bolded keywords, as well as summaries and questions at the end of the chapter.
  3. Think about what the overall theme of the chapter is, and what will be important to remember.


  1. For each section of the chapter, ask the following questions:
    1. What is the overall main point?
    2. What evidence is there to support this point?
    3. Are there any examples in the chapter?
    4. How does this relate to the overall chapter and my other course reading/material?


  1. Read through a section with your questions in mind, make notes of potential answers.
  2. Use the margins or a notebook to keep your thoughts organized.


  1. As you complete each section, go back and verbalize the answers to your questions. Say them out loud, and listen to your answers.
  2. The purpose of this is to start to remember the answers without needing to refer to the chapter or your notes.


  1. Once you have read through the section, go back and underline or highlight the main points of each section.
  2. Add any additional notes to the text/margin/your notes.
  3. Once you have read through the entire chapter, create a one-page summary.
How do I email my professors if I have a question or need help?

The task of emailing a professor can be daunting, especially the first time you do it. Using the appropriate language, content and structure can be tricky until you get the hang of it, but learning how to properly email a professor is key to your academic success. It can lead to helpful paper feedback, letters of recommendation, and many opportunities you aren’t aware of yet. There are many ways to compose more effective and appropriate emails to your professors. Use these five tips to get started on drafting the best emails to your professors.