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What's the best way to take notes?

Excel in High School with these Note Taking Tips

Taking notes is stressful to some students, but it doesn’t have to be if you learn how to take the right kinds of notes for each of your high school classes. Everyone has a different view on how to take effective notes, and everyone does it differently, but finding the right style that works for you is important and will help you succeed.

Your chosen classes will determine the types of material you learn and the note taking abilities you will need to use to succeed academically. Before you enter college, it is best to start developing good note taking habits at an early age, starting in your high school classes. For more in-depth guidance, you should consult with an academic or student coach.

Maths and Sciences

Although many students feel fine using lined paper, you may want to consider using graphing paper, or even blank paper in math and science courses. Graphing paper is great if you need to draw diagrams in class, like stem-and-leaf display in your statistics class, or to copy down equations in your calculus and algebra classes. Many students also use blank pages as scrap paper, so they can work out the equations alongside the teacher while keeping their actual class notes neat and orderly. Organization is important when it comes to taking notes and it will help you stay on task.

To develop good note taking strategies for your high school career, you need to start early in your freshman year if possible. You should always bring more paper than you think you will need to any math and science classes. Unlike in the Humanities, where you can jot down the names of important figures and events to return to study later, STEM courses require more effort to cement class material in your long-term memory due to their technical nature.

If you are worried about your note taking abilities and are planning to head to college when you graduate high school, talking to an academic coach can help you get your skills up to speed. They will be more than happy to help you figure out where your current abilities are and help you develop a note taking system that works for you.


The Humanities are more diverse in terms of material and class structure than math and science. While both class types are interdisciplinary to some degree, the Humanities have a greater rift between subjects. Each class, however, is slightly different and may require a unique approach, depending on the subject matter, your note taking preferences, and the teacher’s class style.

English (which includes Shakespeare, Greek classics, literature, and any other type of class that focuses in-depth on the English language) and the political and social sciences make up the majority of Humanities courses. Depending on your high school, you may be able to enrol in different courses unique to your school, like Philosophy or International Relations. Talk to your high school guidance counselor or an academic coach about your course options. They are a great resource to use, and they a