Making good study notes (1 Viewer)


Jun 3, 2014
South of here
Uni Grad
A thread for suggestions on good note making practices.

How to approach each of the subjects:

  • Since it is a bad idea to rote learn essays, because you don't actually learn how to craft responses that fit the question. Rote learn content from the texts you studied instead.
  • Litcharts is a good resource to start you off.
For each text (core + related), prepare minimum 6-7 examples; for each theme/reading. (For each poem, just take one reading). (you can structure examples under themes/readings). Aim for 3-4 different readings.

Pick examples that are applicable to a wide range of themes, and add relevant techniques. Try to pick actual techniques that showcase particular ideas or aspects of the text (or the text type). With the exception of film, it is recommended to include a quote from the text (for film a description or quote). With the exception of poetry, typically you can related literary or cinematic techniques to more broader things like plot or characterisation (not all texts have a plot though).

For comparative study (whether 2 core, or a core and related), try to pair up examples. This will make integration work easier.

For critical study, explore different readings. Consider especially interwoven secondary material (such as other's people's opinions).

For contextual study, write up notes on context. Take a more applied approach to the themes, by selecting contemporary events and issues to when the text was written, and how they are commented on, reflected on and developed in the text.

I didn't do these subjects but based on what I understand would be helpful, here are some suggestions:
  • For economics and business studies, make use of fact sheets, and definition lists. Fact sheets contain the latest statistics and info. Keep it concise so you can recall it easily in assessments. Definition lists are just key concepts. And then you might have a process sheet on any calculation related things.
    You may decide to make proper notes for economics concepts. You can make use of coloured boxes for key definitions and formulae.
  • For legal studies, fact sheets covering different legal areas may be helpful; as well as definition lists.
  • For ancient/modern, you could approach it similarly to English, however instead of focusing on quotes and techniques, you are looking at events and people.
Science is one of those subjects tricky to work out how much notes to write imho.
  • I generally avoided putting in any worked examples for calculations, as it is better just to actually practice papers rather than read over worked examples. Although I would make exception, and put in the steps for how to calculate titrations.
  • For Chemistry, highlight and focus particularly on chemical equations as examples; especially when they crossover with theory content.
  • Make use of diagrams, tables, coloured boxes for definitions or formulae.
  • If you do decide to use dot points, practice writing complete sentences explaining key concepts as you may have to regurgitate content in the exam.
  • Science is one of the few subjects where it is actually recommended to rote learn content.
  • I would suggest doing it per syllabus point as one approach (although with the new syllabus this may be less clear cut).
  • Chemistry notes are good typed especially if you can do the subscript and superscript.
  • This is my personal opinion, generally for high school level maths, I don't find that you need to make notes. As long as your teacher is taking you through examples in class and you have a good textbook to have a read, you don't generally need notes (except for general maths, it might be helpful to develop a cheat sheet).
  • Your best bet with maths is to get straight into doing problems, exercises and past papers.
  • If you do decide to make notes, you can try Latex only if you have the time and are able to do it quickly. Otherwise you are better off handwriting (Maths is one of the few subjects I would not recommend typing, I tried that in first year uni and it was not fun).
  • Don't use A5 books. Use A4 books, with lined paper not the graph paper.
    • Bound books for class notes and worked examples done in class.
    • Non-bound Lecture pads (with margin) with removal pages for assignments and practice papers. (This is so you can remove a page); and get a nice fine liner for neatness.

  • This approach isn't perfect. But there is a couple of ways you can structure it.
    • Make use of colours to colour but be consistent, e.g. grammar structures in pink, new vocab in purple, verb conjugation in orange, new characters in green etc.
    • Three column tables, where the first column is the language studied, the second is the English column and the last column is any notes, vocabulary.
  • Just use the examples provided by your teacher for revision or the ones in the textbook (if the textbook is good like Wakatta)
  • Go hard on vocabulary. For this, Quizlet is your friend as are flashcards. Make a spreadsheet.
  • Use grid paper for practicing writing characters (there is A5 character grid for Chinese/Korean/Japanese here: Grid for Asian Languages (A5 Size) )
  • Some of my Japanese notes are on BoS for reference on how to approach
    Another method is I generally coloured coded which language (black for language of study, blue for English).
For verbs and adjectives, rote learn a set of standard verbs and adjectives and how they conjugate may be better approach then writing out the rules themselves. Depends on the language.

TBH, other subjects I have no clue.
Last edited:


Le Phénix Trilingue
Aug 22, 2019
Krak des Chevaliers
Uni Grad
First of all, this is a great contribution and I really hope it helps a lot of students :D

Here's what I can add,

HSIE - Business Studies:

- Make notes for each syllabus dot point, as this helps in making organised notes, which in turn makes studying easier.
- Add links to or information about case studies under each dot point where applicable, that way you have a better idea of what kind of questions you may be able to utilise them for.

Non-Asian (e.g. European, Middle Eastern) Languages:

Beginners and Continuers:

- As mentioned above, make sure you have separate notes for vocabulary, grammar and spelling. There must be a clear distinction between each of those components as that will increase clarity, which is very important when learning a language, especially at Beginners level.
- In addition to that, make a separate section for irregularities/exceptions to a grammatical rule.


- Make extensive notes about your prescribed text, including the significance of important events, meaning of quotes as well as an accurate translation of those quotes to English.

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