5 Note-Taking Strategies For Middle School Students

Last Updated on February 16, 2023 by Editorial Team

Throughout history, taking notes has been a fundamental aspect of human evolution. Noting down or recording important information is referred to as taking notes. While note-taking helps work professionals and adults, it is also vital for middle school students. Note-taking allows students to record information in an organized way where they get an opportunity to remember the main ideas and create relationships with the existing ones.

Taking notes requires specific cognitive behavior, and writing them activates the brain in favorable patterns that aid knowledge acquisition. Making notes helps students reflect and go over what they have written. Note-taking is an interesting process that various well-known strategies can influence. Students can benefit from learning these strategies and using them in numerous situations.

Cornell Method  

Effective strategies for note taking

There are various ways students follow to take notes. However, it is important to give them the correct way and methods that aid knowledge acquisition. People across the globe have used these reputed strategies for note-taking.

1. Outlining Method

This is a traditional note-taking method that students mainly use. Even though it is a simpler form of taking notes, it is more beneficial than other conventional ways.

  • In this method, you need to outline various topics being taught in the class. 
  • The main topic should be recorded on the left side of the page.
  • All subtopics of the main topic should be recorded towards the right with an indent.
  • Any further information, subtopics, or supporting facts should be recorded with an indent.
  • For example, you can write it this way.
    • The Earth (Main Topic)
    • Planets (Subtopic)
    • Features (Further Sub Topic)

This strategy is beneficial when various pieces of information are interconnected. It is also helpful to understand the hierarchy of any given concept. Acting as a great tool for note-taking for middle schoolers, this is a comparatively easier yet effective method to take notes during class.

2. Mapping Method

Mind maps have been used by many students, specifically in middle school. Mapping is a good way to organize information in a visually appealing format. This method is useful for topics that have branches and sub-branches.

  • In this method, you need to draw any shape at the center of the page. 
  • Write down the main idea of the class/discussion in shape.
  • As the class proceeds, create different branches connected to the main idea.
  • If the branches have further topics, divide these topics by drawing sub-branches connected from a particular branch.
  • For example, your main idea can be – Communication. Branches to the main idea can be – Verbal and Nonverbal. Sub branches to this branch can be – List of Advantages of both.

The mapping strategy works well when the vast subject matter has several branches of information. Students can make it visually attractive by adding colors to it.

3. Sentence Method 

This is a simple method directed at recording maximum information. It requires students to practice active listening during class or seminars.

  • In this method, you need to record each piece of information in a different sentence.
  • Break the vast information into pieces and jot them in a new sentence.
  • Number these sentences to gain more clarity over the comprehension of the information.
  • Each sentence should be written in a different line to look neat for the note-taking process.

This subtle strategy benefits students by noting each point discussed in the class. With such a strategy, they can classify important and not-so-important information easily.

4. Write down the main ideas 

A lot of students try to write down each and every word that the teacher is saying in the class. However, a good note-taking strategy would be to jot down only the main concepts and the main words associated with those concepts. 

When the teacher is explaining a topic on the blackboard, students must note down what the teacher is emphasizing the most. For the same, they can copy down the important word rather than fully copying sentences. 

This is solely because trying to write down more than required can result in two things- firstly, it can jumble up the whole concept while the student swiftly tries to note it down. And secondly, they might miss out on what’s important because they are too engaged in copying quantity more than quality.

5. Shorthand works wonders

A lot of journalists and people from the press rely on shorthand so that they can take away maximum from their lectures. To get into the practice of shorthand, students can make up their own abbreviations and signs which can help them with shorthand. Using text lingo can help the students attain the maximum information in a limited amount of time. 

6. Pictures for the rescue

Students can use pictures and graphical tools for note-taking. Illustrating with images, charts, and graphs can help students with effective note taking as they can help students remember concepts and notes. 

The pictures in the book which is related to the concept can be used and marked on notes as a reference that when the child studies that particular concept, he/she is able to relate, connect and find the picture to recall what the teacher has taught. This can also be advantageous to students as it helps them with a better memory of the notes that they are making during their lectures.

7. Using Margins

Comments and questions can be marked in the margins provided in the notebook, as they don’t clog the student’s working memory. This can also allow students to focus on the inner content fully. While the lecture or the class is going on, the students can note down questions or doubts in the margins that can help them to solve their problems better. Moreover, these doubts or extra things won’t mix up with the actual notes, resulting in better note-taking.

Helpful tips to improve note-taking skills

Apart from the strategies mentioned above, students can also refer to various tips and techniques to improve their note-taking skills. These tips are essentially helpful to middle school students as they help them organize information in a structured manner.

1. Prepare Beforehand

Most students suffer from being unprepared before the lecture. If you are not prepared with the layout for taking notes, you will likely miss the initial part of the information. In the case of reading or studying assignments, you should do it before avoiding distractions while taking notes in the lecture.

2. Be an Active Listener 

While notes may help you understand the recorded information, a lot can be figured out through verbal communication by the lecturer. Delivering a lecture is an art; if you are an active listener, you can easily identify the statements/facts/figures emphasized by the instructor. As you figure this out, you can simultaneously mark it as important in your notes. 

3. Use Abbreviations

note taking is time-consuming as you need to be aware of the information while paying attention to the lecturer. In such situations, use abbreviations to shorten the information while not changing its meaning. This tip saves time and space as you can always understand the obvious abbreviations (&, %, Etc., Ex).

4. Include Colors

Colors give a visual appeal to your notes, and they also help you classify notes in an organized manner. You can use normal colors (red, black, blue) to categorize notes in a structured manner. Use the red color for a different approach, blue for the features of that approach, and black for marking the important statements quoted by the teacher.

5. Stay Focused 

You will likely be distracted by long lectures surrounding the same subject matter. In this case, staying focused and aligned with the speaker is important. Concentrating on the speaker is an effective way to record information with precision. Know that quality information can be recorded only when you practice active listening and focus-building skills. 

Different resources to improve note-taking skills

Strategies and tips work well for middle school students. However, when students are exposed to massive pieces of information, other resources can be equally helpful. These resources offer note-taking knowledge while students get an opportunity to learn from a fresh perspective. 

  • Books on improving note-taking skills are advantageous as students learn different techniques through books. As these books have a universal approach, they get a chance to view note-taking from the perspectives of reputed authors.
  • Numerous mobile and computer applications are designed to provide information on note taking. These applications are easy to install and offer knowledge on digital note-taking.
  • Online note-taking tools are beneficial to take notes digitally. Such tools offer innovative ways to format notes, structure them, and save them in the desired formats.
  • Engaging websites are also a good way to involve students in the process of note-taking. Various websites offer different tips, tricks, and techniques to improve the note-taking process.


Note-taking is a beneficial way of recording information for studies, remembrance, and examinations. When students are exposed to different strategies of note-taking, they are more likely to comprehend information in a structured format. Awareness of note-taking strategies also allows students to identify the preferred strategy they can follow for most subjects. 

Along with these strategies, students can also take advantage of the helpful tips. Teachers can develop activities to enhance note-taking skills while improving memory and concentration. Books, games, and note-taking applications also help students stay connected to the concept even when they are away from the classroom. In this way, students learn to Integrate ideas into concepts, strategizing their plans through effective note-taking skills.

Leave a Comment