Reading for Assignment Success: Note taking and reading

Reading for assignment success

Note taking and reading

You might take notes when listening to a lecture, watching a video or when reading. Taking notes can be a good way to remind yourself of important points but it is not just copying down what you hear or read and then using them in your assignments.

Good note taking will require you to engage actively with your texts. A good note taking strategy can help you use the critical thinking methods discussed in earlier sections.

Photo pen and note book


Go to the following hyperlink and read the article. Make notes in whatever way you usually would. If you do not have any paper you could open up the notepad on your computer.

More than half of children in England and Wales bullied about appearance [Opens in a new window or browser tab]

In the last activity you made notes on a newspaper article. You may have found that in your notes you copied the key points of what you read, but did you apply critical thinking to your notes?

Having a good note taking method can help you understand what you read, think critically about it and then incorporate the ideas into your assignments. Here we will outline a strategy for note taking that you can use when reading or listening to lectures.

The Cornell Notes Method

The Cornell Notes method is a great way to engage with your reading. It’s also useful for taking lecture notes too. When you use this method you will divide your note paper into three sections, one for the key points. One to ask questions, write definitions, and identify actions and one to write a summary.


Watch the video ‘How To: Take Cornell Notes‘ to learn about the Cornell Method and how one student uses it to better understand her topic.

Here is an example of some notes on The Guardian article linked in the last activity. Note that the key points are identified in the right column, some questions about these points have been written along with some actions and a summary has been added in the bottom section.

In an extra step some keywords have been highlighted which could be used when doing a search for more research on this topic.

Whether you choose to use this method or your own the key thing to keep in mind is to engage with your reading by asking questions and to review your notes several times afterwards.


Answer the multiple choice question below.

Example of Cornell notes method
Navigation button: Previous- questioing your reading
Navigation button: Next - what do students need to read