How To Take Good Biology Notes

Young college students in class / Getty Images

One key to succeeding in biology is having good note-taking skills. It is not enough to just come to class and listen to the instructor. You must be able to take accurate, detailed notes in order to perform well on exams.

In fact, most instructors use their lecture notes to come up with at least half, if not more, of their biology exam questions. Below are some good biology note-taking tips that are sure to help you learn how to take biology notes.

Follow the Guidelines

Some instructors provide course or lecture guidelines. Study these guidelines before class so you will be familiar with the material. Read any assigned materials before class as well. If you know what is going to be discussed beforehand, you will be better prepared to take notes.

Get the Main Points

An important key ​to success in biology note-taking is the ability to focus on and write down the main points. Don't try to write down everything your instructor says, word for word. It's also a good idea to copy down anything the instructor writes on the chalkboard or overhead. This includes drawings, diagrams, or examples.

Record the Lecture

Many students find it difficult to take good biology notes because some instructors present information very quickly. In this case, ask the instructor for permission to record the lecture. Most instructors don't mind, but in case your instructor says no, you will have to practice taking notes quickly. Ask a friend to read an article quickly while you take notes. Review your notes to see if they are accurate and detailed.

Leave Some Space

When taking notes, be sure that you have enough space so that you can decipher what you have written. There is nothing more frustrating than having a page full of cramped, illegible notes. You will also want to be sure that you leave extra space in case you need to add more information later.

Textbook Highlighting

Many students find it useful to highlight information in textbooks. When highlighting, be sure to only highlight specific phrases or keywords. If you highlight every sentence, it will be difficult for you to identify the specific points that you need to focus on.

Ensure Accuracy

An effective way to ensure that the notes you have taken are accurate is to compare them with the information in your biology text. In addition, speak with the instructor directly and ask for feedback on your notes. Comparing notes with a classmate can also help you to capture the information you may have missed.

Reorganize Your Notes

Reorganizing your notes serves two purposes. It allows you to rewrite your notes in a format that helps you understand them more clearly, and it helps you to review the material you have written.

Review Your Notes

Once you have reorganized your biology notes, be sure to review them before the end of the day. Be certain that you know the main points and write a summary of the information. Reviewing your notes is also advantageous when preparing for a biology lab.

Prepare For Biology Exams

Your biology note-taking skills are essential for preparing for biology exams. You will find that if you follow the instructions above, most of the work in preparing for the exams will have already been done.

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Your Citation
Bailey, Regina. "How To Take Good Biology Notes." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Bailey, Regina. (2023, April 5). How To Take Good Biology Notes. Retrieved from Bailey, Regina. "How To Take Good Biology Notes." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).