3 Ways to Take Notes in Med School

Medical school is quite the jump from high school (if you are an undergrad) and even your undergraduate degree to some extent.  I experimented different ways to take notes and decided to share my top three favourite ways.  All three methods will require a laptop or even a tablet with a keyboard that you can take into lectures.  I am going to mention my methods from least to best note-taking strategy. 

Third Place: Copying the slides into a Word document.  

This is the most time-consuming method, which is why it is third place.  In the picture below, you can see my lecture slide on the left and the word document on the right.  In this case, I copied the slide into the word document the day before the lecture.  I understand that isn't possible for everyone so if your lectures aren't released until after it is given, I would spend that evening copying the slides into my word document.  

During the lecture, I will type out verbatim what the lecturer is saying under each heading.  This enables me to have context and saves time having to re-listen to the lecture.  I can revisit the lecture months after it happened, and my notes will still be comprehensible.   Overall, this was a very beneficial method for my exams, but I did find that it was very time consuming. I used this method throughout my first term for two dense modules and it did help me learn the material but sometimes having too much information can be overwhelming and impede on my understanding of the topic.


  • All of your information is in one place so it is easy to access.  Your word document can be downloaded onto your phone to read on the go, or your tablet for example.  Therefore, easy to transfer your notes. 
  • You can print out your notes with ease. 
  • You can always go back and add more information from further reading under the relevant subheading. 
  • Notes are always comprehensible and tell the full story. 
  • Risk of information surplus but can be mitigated by bullet pointing anything that was on the lecture slide (key points) and leaving extra information in a paragraph below to provide context.   Hence, only learn the bullet points for examinations. 
  • Very time consuming to copy out the lectures the night before, especially when you have multiple subjects the next day. 
  • Involves a lot of passive note taking, so this method doesn't enable you to learn as you go as effectively.  
Second Place: Adding Comments on PDFs

Most lecture slides are a PDF at my universities but I have seen some that are powerpoint.  This method can work for both powerpoint decks and PDFs.  On powerpoint, you will have a little 'comments' section underneath each slide which you can type extra information that the lecturer is saying to do the same as the third place method: provide context and increase understanding.  What I love about this method is that it is quick, easy, and requires no preparation the night before.  Furthermore, all the information you need will be in one place like the word document, however in a different format.  This will save time in the long run and means you can spend more time actually learning the material.  

In the picture below I highlighted with a pink circle which icon you should press to add annotations or comments, and then at the end of the arrow, you will see what icon will appear (a yellow speech box). 


When you hover over the yellow speech icon, the information you typed will be visible.  

  • All of your notes are in one place, similar to the word document.  
  • No preparation prior or after the lecture is required (unless you have to re-listen to the lecture).  More time spent actively learning material rather than passively making notes.
  • Notes can also be verbatim similar to the word document. 
  • The annotations can be useful during revision by acting as a flash card- you can test your understanding of the material and hover to check if you explained or said everything regarding that slide. 
  • Annotations are not visible when transferring documents to tablets or phones, so can only revise on the laptop. 
  • Cannot print all of notes as annotations won't be seen in printouts.
  • Difficult to share notes with peers. 
First Place: Separate word document and PDF

This final method is the one I am adapting this term.  This involves a fusion of the last two systems I just shared.  The reason why this is first is because it requires no preparation, similar to second place, so it increases the time available for active revision and studying.  On top of that, having a separate word document enables you to potentially adapt the third place method should you want to in the future.  You can share your notes with peers and transfer your notes onto other devices which enables flexibility.  

On the left you can see the lecture hand out slide, and on the right you can see my document which has verbatim notes by the lecturer.  I did not copy over the lecture slides onto that document. Lecturers usually expand on what is said on the slide to improve our understanding of the information.  Thus, this method will also separate key points (on the slide) from excess material to prevent information overload.

  • No prior passive preparation needed so more time spent learning the material. 
  • Allows you to interchange between third place and second place methods should you want all information in one place.  You can always add more information to the document later.
  • Separates the key points that should be learnt from other details so you are less likely to be overwhelmed with facts.  
  • Can test your knowledge by expanding on the slide information and test if you said everything on the word document. 
  • Can transfer the PDF and document to your other devices and study using split screen (more difficult on a phone).
  • Can easily share your notes with others. 
  • Information is not all in one place which can prove frustrating at times.
  • Cannot study on devices where 'split screen' feature isn't possible so can only read one or the other. 
  • Cannot print notes as a result (NB you obviously can print the notes but it will be a lot more paper than if you followed the first method)

In essence, those are my top three note-takings strategies! I realise that taking notes is not nearly as important as actually learning the material so I want to ensure that I am prioritising my time effectively.  Your notes do not have to be super pretty (as you can see, mine are very plain). If they convey what you need to know, they are doing their job.  Last term I used the third place method and that took quite a lot of time, even though having them in one document was satisfying.  This term, I am deciding to do the first place method and learning the material as I go along so that I do not feel too overwhelmed come exam time.  For lectures where there is more text than pictures on the slides, I will still use the second place method.  

I hope this was of some use and help to anyone struggling to find their ideal style.  These methods can obviously translate into other subjects and degrees. 

Thank you for reading!


  1. When my partner and i acquired onto your internet site although acquiring thought fundamentally relatively little submits. Pleasant strategy for approaching, I will be bookmarking concurrently get sorts conclusion goes up up wards. Medical Device

  2. I am continually amazed by the amount of information available on this subject. What you presented was well researched and well worded in order to get your stand on this across to all your readers. aesthetic injection training near me

  3. Best work you have done, this online website is cool with great facts and looks. I have stopped at this blog after viewing the excellent content. I will be back for more qualitative work. Bridget gigi goddard


Blogger Template Created by pipdig