Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Writing Support Services

We help you to improve your writing through individual consultations and by providing resources, such as manuals, tips, links to writing web pages, and videos.

Note-taking Basics

  • Clear, concise notes are more effective than copious notes.
  • Instead of using a spiral, use a loose-leaf notebook divided into class sections. 
  • Make all notes on loose-leaf paper. In an upper corner, title and date each sheet as you use it.
  • Rewrite and combine your old study and lecture notes into a new single set of notes or outline. Use them as a replacement for your old notes in the loose-leaf binder.
  • This gives you complete control of and fast access to a crucial part of the learning process – Your Course Notes – their organization, additions, replacements and rewrites thereof!


  1. Sit near the front of the class to avoid distractions.
  2. Be a good listener. Focus and concentrate on the main points of the lecture. Get them down on paper. You’ll put them into your own words later along with your study notes. Pay attention to the instructor’s clues as to what he/she considers important.
  3. If there is something you don’t understand, ASK!
  4. Immediately after a lecture, without looking at your notes, try to recall on a separate paper as much as you can about what you have heard and learned. Then review your actual lecture notes to confirm and/or supplement your memory.
  5. During your next study session quickly recall again on paper what you learned, then review and reorganize your lecture notes in your own words.
  6. Repeat the recall process several times over several days to commit the new information to memory.
  • Schedule a specific time to study when you do not do anything else, like watch TV or chat with friends. 
  • Do not study for more than 2 hours at a time.
  • Use travel time to study.
    • Pop a study or lecture tape into your car’s cd player.  If you use a laundromat, listen to study tapes or review class notes while your clothes spin and dry.
  • Try to study during daylight hours. Natural light is more conducive to learning.
  • Use two schedules
    • Create an hour-by-hour weekly schedule.  Using your class schedules as a guide, block out specific times each day for study and all other activities. Rule of thumb: one and a half hours of study for each hour of class.
    • Create a semester schedule showing midterms, finals, due dates, meetings and other important events.  Weekly, review both schedules and allow more study time as needed:  a good schedule keeps you from wandering off course.
  • Prioritize: daily list what you need to study, prioritize and set times for each item, and stick to it.
  • Use the 30-3-2 schedule
    • Study for 30 minutes;
    • Take a 3 minute break - let the break be a time to think about other things;
    • Upon returning, take an extra 2 minutes to mentally review what you have just read and do a quick review of what is coming up next. 

MEMORIZE FROM GENERAL TO SPECIFIC. Study the big picture, then learn the details.  Learning and memorization are like a funnel – the process is not very effective when the small end is at the top.

CRAMMING DOES NOT WORK! Cramming for an exam only commits the information to your short-term memory.  You will forget what you never really learned.     


  1. Don’t use the information.
  2. Confuse it with other information.
  3. Decide the information does not match what you already believe.
  4. Never really learned the information in the first place.


  1. Be interested.  Pay attention. Consciously choose to remember.  Establish a need to remember.           
  2. Visualize.  Picture in your mind what you wish to remember.
  3. Relate.  Relate and form associations between the new ideas and information you wish to remember and information, ideas, persons, things, etc., that you already know.
  4. Repeat.  Even though something is initially learned it will more than likely be forgotten if not over learnedBe sure to repeat information in your own words.

More Memory Tips


  1. Make your own flash cards by writing “fill in the blank” statements on the front of index cards and answers on the back.
  1. Or do the same with a recorder: Make recorded questions, pause for answers, then record the answers.

SEVEN IS THE MAGIC NUMBER. Repeat difficult information seven times a day for seven days. – OR – Create seven index cards with the word or fact written on them.  Tape the cards in places where you go frequently (i.e., mirror, fridge, etc.), then forget about them. After two weeks you will subliminally absorb the information.


  1. During review cover up the text below headings and try to remember what’s next.
  2. This method works well with your notes, outline and Quick Study charts.


  1. Highlight them in your textbooks and outlines.
  2. Give extra attention to words or phrases in bold.
  3. Make up acronyms or mnemonics to recall (i.e., GIGO = garbage in, garbage out; or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally = parentheses, then exponents, then multiplication, division, addition and subtraction).

MAPPING.  Make a mental image of your notes, outlines, color coded Quick Study charts, etc., and where facts are located on them in relation to their topics.  These images (fact maps) and their data can often be recalled during tests. For examples, see  You can also try Xmind: