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Learning Center - Study Skills

This guide reviews study skills, including effective note-taking, test-taking, and reading.


Before you begin taking notes, you need to determine an organization system.  By organizing your notes, you will be able to quickly access the information in them whether you are studying (or taking a test), writing a research paper, or completing a project. There are many note-taking systems that you can use to organize the information, but it's important to find the one that works best for you and the subject you are studying.  


No matter the system you use, there are some key elements to organizing notes:

  • Writing the subject of the information at the top of the page.
  • Giving definitions of new terms or concepts.
  • Outlining (and highlighting!) major topics / sub-topics and/or processes / steps.
  • Providing illustrations of important concepts.


Here is an example of an effective organizational strategy that uses these elements:



One of the most popular note-taking systems is the Cornell system.  In this system, the left-hand side of the page is used for major topics and the right-hand side of the page is used for explanation.  The Cornell system allows you to quickly locate information related to a specific topic, which is helpful when needing to reference that topic during studying, test taking, and homework completion. 


Here is an example of the Cornell system in practice:

You can also use charts and graphic organizers to help you organize your notes. These systems will help you to see connections between different topics and sub-topics, making it particularly useful for complex topics and critical thinking.  


Here is an example of a graphic organizer template: