Note Taking and Test Preparation

Taking Notes
Note taking is an efficient way to learn new information, and the
first step to studying for tests.
Taking notes is taking responsibility for your learning.

"Note taking is a method of mastering information - not just
recording facts."
AVID Press 2004


  Requires practice ~ especially at first. 

  Creates a "graphic organizer" and helps you visualize key information.

Abbreviations that may help you when taking notes can be found here.

  There are several methods you can use to take notes.  The preferred way to record notes is the
      "Cornell Note Taking Method".  This method is used in upper elemenatry, middle school, high
       school, and even college! 

  Another effective way to take notes is "concept mapping", also called mind mapping, clustering,
       or word webs. 

  As with all your papers, notes should be organized and kept in your binder for quick access. 

  Be aware that sometimes "notes" are collected, and included as part of your overall grade.

  Have you ever heard of an "open-note test"?  This is when your teacher allows you to use your
       notes to answer the questions on a quiz or test ~ a HUGE advantage, and a good reason to take
       good notes!

As you get better at note taking, you will develop your own "style" for abbreviating words and
       information to help you study later.

  Over the years you will have many teachers that teach in a variety of ways.  It will be important for
        you to perfect your note taking methods and skills so you can be the most successful you can be.

More not taking tips can be found here.

Test Preparation
Cornell style notes makes preparing for a test easy.
With practice, you will be studying more efficiently.
"Test taking has become an ever increasing part of student assessment as well as school accountability... It is critical that the student is knowledgeable about how to prepare for a test and how to take a test." 
AVID Press 2004

  Ask the teacher what type of test you will be taking.  The most common types of test are:
        true/false, matching, fill in the blank, multiple choice, short answer, or essay.

  You may need to recall information from memory, or you may be able to use clues in the question
        to answer correctly.

  You will need to organize your notes to match the type of test you will be taking.  For example:

Type of Test


True/False, Matching, Fill in the Blank ~ Looking for specific information
  • Focus on facts, dates, vocabulary
  • Highlight key words
  • "Code" * your notes
Multiple Choice ~
Looking for specific information, often with the answer imbedded in the question
  • Focus on facts, dates, vocabulary
  • Highlight key words
  • "Code" * your notes
  • Rewrite important notes ~ things the teacher has emphasized
  • Think about "tricky" questions
  • Create practice questions and possible choices for answers

 Choices for answers usually have one that is
 correct; one that is way off; one that is general; 
 and one or two that are tricky.  If you just don't
 know the answer, you can eliminate the one that
 is way off, and the one that is too general ... Then
 you have a 50/50 chance of getting the answer

Short Answer, Essay ~
Looking for detailed, in-depth information in a written answer format
  • Focus on main ideas; key concepts; cause and effect; the "why"s
  • Highlight main ideas / key concepts
  • Rewrite notes in paragraphs to practice
  • "Code" * your notes

        * "Coding" your notes ~ Put a + next to something you know well; a ? if you need to review it; and
       a - if you don't know it ... yet.  You can also "color code" you notes to help you.

  To help you remember information, you can make sets of flashcards using Flashcard Maker or
        write a "mini quiz" ~ questions you think might be on a test coming up.  Remember to include
        things your teacher has mentioned might be on a test.  Use "review sheets" to practice for tests.
        More tips and tools to help you prepare for tests can be found by clicking here.

How To Study Tips ~ free study skills, strategies, and tips.

Visit these links to help you be the most successful student you can be.
Organization        SLANT       Time Management        Goals


 Note Taking & Test Prep        Questioning and Thinking


Lynne Harvey
Poway Unified School District