how to make notes effectively in a nursing class

How to Make Notes Effectively in a Nursing Class

how to make notes effectively in a nursing classHow to Make Notes Effectively in a Nursing Class

While one nursing student takes notes on a laptop, the other prefers making notes with a pen on paper. These days, a laptop is often required for every course, since study materials are usually distributed online. Furthermore, typing is often quicker than writing. Even so, scientific research states that making notes with pen and paper is beneficial since you remember the contents better. All in all, there are different opinions on how to make the best notes during class, which is why College Nursing Help experts have compiled this article, explains the pros and cons of different methods.

Go to class

During class, the professor gives an overview of the content of the course and explains difficult concepts. Most of the time, additional information is provided that may be required to write down during an exam. By going to class, you can check if you understand the information correctly and ask questions. Asking questions means actively participating in class, which will enhance your knowledge of the subject and make preparation for your exam easier.

Be prepared

When going to class, make sure that you have read through the required materials beforehand. This way, you know what will be discussed during class and you will be able to ask more precise questions. Also, you will retain more information.

Making good notes on your laptop


  • Typing is quicker than writing
  • You can easily adapt your notes afterward
  • Notes are easy to organize
  • You can find your notes quickly (if you use a good system to store your notes)
  • You are likely to make less grammatical and spelling errors because of autocorrecting
  • It is easy to retrieve your notes even after a long time
  • You can easily copy images of models and theories into your notes


  • If your laptop crashes, you’re likely to lose your progress. Always use Google Drive, Dropbox or e-mail as a backup
  • It is easier to get distracted by social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram

Writing good notes on paper


  • Scientific research shows that writing down notes enhances your understanding of the material, as well as retain the information better
  • You write down only the necessary information, which will make a more efficient summary


  • Notes on paper may become disorganized
  • Writing by hand takes more time than typing
  • If the teacher speaks quickly, you may not be able to keep up
  • You could lose or damage your notes (hello, rainy day! Bye, notes that are soaked)

There is no good or wrong way to take notes, so feel free to choose the method that suits you best and helps you learn the most efficiently!

Consider the pros and cons of taking notes in class. 

Many students find it easier to type than to write, but there are still reasons to use the proven method of pen and paper. Some studies indicate that students who take notes with a pen or pencil are better able to understand and remember the material taught in class than those who type. It can be easy to lapse into transcription mode on a laptop. This happens when you write down everything that is said, instead of actively writing down only the most important thing. By writing notes with a pen you can work more focused.

  • On the other hand, with a laptop or other electronic device, you will be able to format, save, edit, share, and read notes more easily (without worrying about sloppy handwriting).
  • Notebook note-taking tools are nearly endless, for example, Microsoft Word’s “notebook” formatting; software that allows you to link a recording of a lesson to your notes; organization programs that allow you to combine materials of different types and formats, such as emails and PDFs; and note-taking platforms that let you take notes with others in real-time. This can save you or be a distraction for you. Only you can judge what works best for you.
  • Some teachers and institutions prohibit the use of laptops in the classroom, so don’t ignore the need to know how to take notes with pen and paper.

Choose a sitting position

Sit as far forward as possible in the classroom. Choose a place in the class where you won’t be bothered by distraction. This will allow you to pay more attention and make better notes. Find a place where you can see and hear the teacher well. You will also need to be able to see the sign clearly. Arrive a little earlier in the room so that you can choose a good seat.

  • If you find yourself being distracted by noisy fellow students, air conditioning, or an unfortunate glare on the projector screen, find a different spot discreetly without disrupting the class. Otherwise, just do your best this time and find a new place for the next time.

Label your paper with the date and topic of the lecture. Make sure your notes are clearly marked for future reference. Write the class date and topic at the top of each page.

  • If you have multiple pages with notes, also indicate the page numbers. This helps organize your notes.

Remember to take notes, not transcribe the lesson. In order to make better notes, you need to be an “active listener.” This means that you don’t just write down what is said. Instead, you need to get into the material and identify the essential elements of what is being said.

  • For example, instead of writing down every detail of Roosevelt’s foreign policy, write down the key points of his overall foreign policy, with examples to support you. In this way, you immediately start the process of learning and understanding (or, in other words, studying).
  • This need for active involvement is one reason why many experts advise against recording lessons.
  • If you do want to record classes or have a legitimate reason to do so, ask the teacher beforehand if it is okay to record them. A lesson is considered the intellectual property of the teacher. In addition, some institutions have specific policies regarding sound and/or video recordings.

Learn to pick up on the teacher’s hints and clues. The teacher will use vocal inflections, hand gestures, and other indications to emphasize the important parts of the lesson. Begin by observing these patterns and gestures to discern what is essential information.

  • Recognize the main ideas by distinguishing signal words and phrases that indicate that something important is about to follow. Your teacher will not launch a rocket when an important new idea or example is about to follow. But he/she will use signals to make this clear. Any good speaker will do this, and you can expect to receive such signals. Examples are:
    • There are three reasons why …
    • First second Third…
    • The meaning of this is …
    • The impact of this is …
    • From this, we can deduce …
  • Also, learn to distinguish other clues. When the teacher mentions an important point, he/she may slow or louder speak, repeat a word or phrase, take a longer pause than usual between sentences (or maybe even take a drink of water); gesture more demonstratively with his or her hands; stop walking around and/or look more closely at the audience, etc.

Review your notes as soon as possible. Do this within 24 hours of class. By then you have already forgotten 80% of the material covered in class.  Build on what you’ve learned, instead of relearning the material.
Review your notes and don’t just rewrite them. 
Consider your lesson notes your draft copy and the revision of your edited version. Create a new version of your notes. This is especially helpful if your notes are sloppy, disorganized, or nearly illegible. It is not intended to copy your notes as you originally wrote them. Make this part an active process of the review.

  • Use the clues you picked up in class regarding the structure and key concepts to reorganize what you have written down.
  • Fill in weak areas with material from the textbooks

Have notes of missed lessons. If you missed a class due to illness or some other reason, make sure you can copy a classmate’s notes. Talk to the instructor so you understand the material.

  • Do not rely on a service where notes are offered for sale. Most schools and universities have a policy against the use of such endorsements. Remember that using purchased notes is not the same as “active learning” and thus does not aid in understanding and memorizing the material.
  • If you have a physical or other disability that makes it difficult for you to take notes, discuss the options with your teacher and the student facilities of your institution. There are likely to be several options available, including special lesson guides, note-taking help, permission to record lessons, or tutoring.

With these universal tips, you will be in a good position to use your notes for exam revisions and for other reverences. Remember, if you have any problems in writing your nursing assignments, term papers, or research papers, we have professional online writers who can help you out. Just click here


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