Note-Taking Icon

How To Take Effective Study Notes Based On Your Learning Style


The best note taking techniques can be different for every type of learner.

There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution for note-taking—especially since every student has a slightly different learning style! Before you can determine the note-taking method that works best for you, it’s important to first find out what your learning style is.

There are 4 main learning styles: Visual Learning, Auditory Learning, Kinaesthetic/Tactile Learning, and Read/Write Learning. Although there are many ways to take notes, some methods work better for certain learning styles than others.

Keep on reading to determine which learning style you are and which note-taking methods will work best for you.

Note-Taking Methods For Visual Learners

Characteristics Of Visual Learners

Visual learners understand information when they see it. These types of learners like to use images, diagrams, colours, and maps to learn and communicate information.

Visual learners are great at:

  • Memory recall
  • Organizing information
  • Remembering images

Which Note-Taking Methods Work Best For Visual Learners?

The best note-taking methods for visual learners are methods that use pictures, diagrams, and colours. Organized notes are key for this type of learner (especially if they are colour coded!).

A great example of a note-taking technique for visual learners is the mind map strategy. This method allows you to make connections between ideas and organize the information in a way that makes sense to you. These maps can include doodles, colours, and shapes to help with memory recall.

Follow these steps to create a mind map:

  • Start with a central idea in the middle of the page
  • Add ‘branches’ for each key topic or theme
  • Add ‘sub-branches’ with key phrases or diagrams to explain the key topics

Quick Tip:

A great way for visual learners to keep their notes organized is to use colour. Different coloured pens or highlighters can help you to organize information and separate topics.

Note-Taking Methods For Auditory Learners

Characteristics Of Auditory Learners

Auditory learners best absorb information when they hear it. These types of learners prefer to learn information by listening.

Auditory learners are great at:

  • Explaining ideas verbally
  • Solving problems by talking them out
  • Following verbal instructions  

Which Note-Taking Methods Work Best For Auditory Learners?

The best note-taking strategies for auditory learners allow you to listen and repeat the information. If available, recording the class with an audio recording device is a good option. This allows you to listen during class and when studying, using the audio recording to listen again.

Another good example of effective note-taking for auditory learners is speaking aloud and recording. This method allows you to record yourself explaining topics verbally. You can then use the recording to listen to the material on the bus, walking to school, while doing chores, etc.

If audio recording isn’t an option, another strategy you can use for note-taking is to listen then write, instead of listening and writing at the same time. This means:

  • Listening and absorbing the information first
  • Gathering your thoughts
  • Writing down summary points

Quick Tip:

Many auditory learners benefit from listening to music while they study written material. This may seem counterintuitive, but music can reduce background noise and help you to focus on the task at hand. Make sure you choose music without lyrics (such as classical music) to help avoid distraction.  

Note-Taking Methods For Kinaesthetic/Tactile Learners

Characteristics Of Kinaesthetic Learners

Kinaesthetic learners understand and learn by moving and doing. These individuals learn best by taking a ‘hands-on’ approach to learning.

Kinaesthetic/tactile learners are great at:

  • Understanding gestures and body language
  • Motor-memory (can replicate an action after doing it once)
  • Understanding the ‘big picture’

Which Note-Taking Methods Work Best for Kinaesthetic Learners?

The best methods of note-taking for tactile learners allow for some sort of engagement and/or movement. A great note-taking method for tactile/kinesthetic learners is writing notes on flashcards or note cards. Your study session should also include taking active breaks while writing notes or finding a way to release some energy while sitting for long periods of time.

Some strategies include:

  • Squeezing a stress ball
  • Getting up and walking around from time to time
  • Chewing gum
  • Tapping your foot

If available, typing notes on a laptop or other device can be a great way for you to create your notes. The act of typing involves both hands and can keep you busy and moving more than writing with one hand.

Quick Tip:

When making study flashcards, create actions for each card to help you remember the material. Another good way to use the flashcards is to sort them into piles. Create one pile for the material you know and are comfortable with and another pile for the material you need to study more.

Note-Taking Methods For Read/Write Learners

Characteristics Of Read/Write Learners

Read/write learners like to read to learn. These individuals prefer to write and read printed words to understand and convey information.

Read/write learners are great at:

  • Organizing information into lists
  • Remembering information they write down
  • Conveying information through writing

Which Note-Taking Methods Work Best for Read/Write Learners?

Typically, these types of learners like to write out complete thoughts and use headings to organize information. A great note-taking strategy for read/write learners is the Sentence Method:

  • Write down information in full sentence form
  • Use headings to organize your notes by topic
  • Stick to writing the most important points to keep up-to-speed with the teacher

Because read/write learners prefer to see printed words, this method is great when returning to the notes to study.

Quick Tip:

A great tip for read/write learners is writing information in the margins of handouts rather than just highlighting the content. This way, you can read the content and write to help you retain the information better.

Better Note-Taking For Your Learning Style

Finding out which type of learner you are is the first step in taking better study notes. By discovering and better understanding your own learning style, you can leverage these strategies to improve your quality of learning (and grades!).

For more tips and resources on note-taking and studying, check out these resources:

Find an Oxford Learning® Location Near You!

We Have Over 100 Centres Across Canada!
Contact A Location

Our Privacy Policy has been updated to meet new regulations. Please read it here.