Take Good Notes and Organize Them

It's vitally important that, in school, you can review what you've learned in a snap. Tests, quizzes, and homework galore -- taking and keeping good notes can be your life preserver in a sea of assignments. But, you have to learn how to make your notebook work for you. To keep your head above water, you'll need a few tips and tricks.


  1. Get a separate notebook for each class. While it may be tempting to have one big binder or notebook for several classes, it means that half the time you'll need to lug around ten thousand papers from various subjects when you really only need the stuff from one. Get either a notebook or {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} binder for each class. Three subject notebooks are usually the best- they're relatively compact but give you the dividers so you can have a section for notes, a section for homework, and a section for classwork.
  2. Get an expanding file organizer. If you look around, you probably will see that people tend to like the whole "one single notebook and folder per subject" idea. Really, though, this makes it easy to lose or destroy things. Instead, get a plastic file organizer, which expands accordion style to reveal pockets that can be labeled so you can keep your papers organized. Looks cool, too!
  3. Be prepared at the start of class. Now that you've got the tools for success, be sure to be prepared in class. Arrive on time or, better yet, early, with all the books and things you will need. Sit down and immediately pull out last night's assignment, as well as your notebook, which you should then open up to a blank page in your notes section. Take out a pencil and eraser as well, and write down tonight's homework in your planner. Doing this stuff will save you time later and help you keep up.
  4. Pay attention to the teacher's cues. Chances are good that your teacher will tell you when she's about to tell you something you should write down, so pay attention in class and listen to your teacher. Prepare to write if she goes to write something on the board that could be important, or says something like "You may want to write this down" or "This is good to have in your notes" or something along those lines. In your notes, if she says something along the lines of "This will be on the test" or repeats it, put a capital 'T' with a circle around it in the margin. You'll get more accustomed to knowing when to and when not to take notes, but generally, you should take at least a few notes every class to ensure that you can later review what you did in class that day, since it will pertain to your homework and tests.
  5. Title and Date all notes and work. Not only will your teacher thank you, but so will you! By titling and dating your notes, it makes it a lot easier to find the notes you need to study for a particular test and to know what you did on a certain day.
  6. Write neatly. There's no point to take notes if you can't read them later. Take the time to write neatly and clearly. It doesn't have to be your best handwriting, but it does have to be easily legible, so save the swirly script for a letter to your crush. Avoid dark smudges and scratch-outs on your paper by arming yourself with a pencil and good eraser. Make sure to leave a few lines of space between separate subjects.
  7. Use bullets, dividers, numbering, pictures, diagrams, symbols, and highlighters. There are many ways to make your notes easier to read. Use bullets to separate pieces of information that belong together but would be easier to absorb separately. Dividers are good if your teacher chooses to jump from topic to topic. Number things that go in order, and use stars to draw the eye to important information. Pictures and diagrams can make information easy to absorb, and highlighters can help to visually separate multiple pieces of information. Just make sure to use these components in moderation- a page covered in highlighted sentences and stars may look pretty, but it's seriously distracting. The purpose in using the highlighter is to attract the eye to the certain piece of information that you need to know for a test or exam. Everyone has a different note taking style, so figure out what works for you!
  8. Take your notes in the right notebook and section. Designate a section of each classes' notebook to notes, and keep them separate from the rest of your work and papers. If, for some reason, you forget your notebook one day, borrow a piece of paper from another notebook or from a friend and record your notes on that. That night, bring your notebook home and transfer the information into it- repetition is a good thing! Also, if your teacher moves fast and you end up scrawling all over the page, rewrite the notes that night on the next page and toss the old ones when you're not rushed.
  9. Use them! Notes are pointless if you don't use them. When your teacher informs you of an upcoming test or quiz, take out your notes each night before the day and review the material. Even a few minutes of skimming over well taken, organized notes can make a big difference in your comprehension and grade. Some people even review their days' notes each night, too, which is a good idea to help solidify new sections or information in your mind.


  • Write neatly.
  • Highlight any important notes and put the highlighted notes into your own words and write it so you understand what it says.
  • When you write notes, make sure you write down a title, date, and page number in case you need to go back and check something from the book.
  • Write your name and homeroom in indelible ink on all notebooks and things. This will help things to get returned to you if you lose them!
  • Keep all your old notes, regardless of whether or not your teacher's moved on from the subject they're on. Once a month, go through your notes and file away the ones that no longer immediately pertain to class in a separate folder, and keep it at home or in your locker. When finals come around, you'll be glad you did.
  • Buy notebooks, pencils, and other supplies that you like and that will last. You're more likely to put in the extra effort to keep things neat if you like what you're using and/or know that you won't need to toss it next month.
  • Try not to highlight everything on your paper. Highlight the key things such as dates, people, places, or important words. And you can highlight according to an important order in a planner.


  • Make sure to keep up your system. There's no point in doing all this work if you're going to let things get messy again!
  • Remember that by using this system it will show in your grades and your performance in class!

Things You'll Need

  • Loose leaf paper
  • 3 ring binders
  • Spiral notebooks
  • Textbooks
  • Homework
  • Pens and pencils
  • Eraser
  • Highlighters
  • Expanding file organizers
  • Dividers
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Ruler

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