So Noted: Four Common Mistakes on Note-taking


By Janie Mallari, Cedar Hill Prep School Alumni, Class of 2019

1. Writing without listening

Right off the bat, this sounds very confusing. Well sometimes, we have the frequency to write things down without understanding the actual point. Yes, you would get more content but this creates more confusion when you revise your notes. It is good to write copiously, but it is not good when you would miss context and have your invested time go into thin air.

How to avoid this mistake:

You must take your time and listen. Comprehend what has been said, then note it down at a normal pace. At the end of the day, you’ll have a better understanding and you won’t have messy notes.


2. Mistaking note-taking for highlighting text

textThe purpose of taking notes is NOT the same as highlighting text. It is making a relevant summary of the text. Students have the tendency to underline or highlight text passages they find to be crucial. While this makes sense for the first review of a text, overdoing it can put the learning outcome in jeopardy.

How to avoid this mistake:

In order to take short and precise notes, it is required that you reflect on the text. Start off by highlighting the important parts of the text. Then, summarise them in your OWN words and/ or add comments in the margins. Wait. Let’s backtrack a little bit. Haven’t you noticed? This is like annotating. To know which text to annotate with its corresponding color, go to my other blog, Annotations.


3. Taking notes on EVERYTHING

notesI frequently make this mistake a lot. Do not take notes on everything. Often, students tend to take notes on everything that the lecturer says but it doesn’t really matter when you take your assessment on the lesson. I write nearly everything that comes out of my teacher’s mouth and when they do a quiz or test on it, the information is not on it. It’s very disappointing to see that something you have noted down was not going to be useful to you in any way.

How to avoid this mistake:

If you already know what the lecture will be about, keep this to your advantage. It would be easier to focus on the information that really matters. Just write down the keynotes of the lecture. Or write down anything that your lecturer says is important or whatever they write on the board.


4. Not taking notes at all

Not taking NotesSure, you trust yourself to remember everything that has been said. However, it is a 50-50 chance you will and you won’t. A little distraction can make you forget a tiny but vital detail. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Just take notes Note-taking makes any process better even if you’re already successful. For example, students with good grades will get better grades.

How to avoid this mistake:

First of all, you need to always bring something to write on and write with. Secretly, the person you keep asking for pens or pencils gets annoyed once in a while. They would soon have a designated pen or pencil for you to use. Just remember, be prepared, focus, and comprehend.