The most important part of note taking is reviewing your notes after class. Notes do very little if they are never looked at again! The average student forgets up to 80 percent of the information within 24 hours of learning it. Students can dramatically increase the amount of information they retain by reviewing their notes within 24 hours.
When reviewing, edit and clarify notes, focusing on main ideas and key points. One way of doing this is by using the Cornell System. To further improve retention, do a weekly review as well. Choose one night of the week (or a weekend day) to go over your notes from the past week in all of your classes. Plan to spend about 30 to 60 minutes per class.
Reviewing also improves retention of information from textbooks. This can be done in almost the same manner. After reading each chapter or section of the text, do a short review within 24 hours and a comprehensive review on a weekly basis.
Nobody is anxious to add another task to his or her list of things to do, but reviewing often saves time in the long run since consistent review leads to less cramming before tests. Studying for a short period of time each day is far more effective than studying for many hours on a single day.