Effective Note-Taking Strategies for BCBA Candidates

Preparing for the BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) exam involves mastering a vast amount of information. Effective note-taking is essential to organize and retain this knowledge, facilitating both your study sessions and practical application. In this post, we’ll explore various note-taking strategies tailored for BCBA candidates to help you maximize your learning and boost your exam performance.

Why Effective Note-Taking Matters

Good note-taking habits are crucial for several reasons:

  • Enhances Comprehension: Writing down key points helps solidify your understanding of complex concepts.
  • Aids Memory Retention: Reviewing your notes regularly reinforces your memory.
  • Organizes Information: Well-structured notes provide a clear and organized record of your study materials.
  • Supports Review: Effective notes make it easier to review and revise for the exam.

1. The Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is a systematic format for condensing and organizing notes. This method divides your paper into three sections: Notes, Cues, and Summary.

How to Use the Cornell Method:

  • Notes Section: Take detailed notes during lectures, readings, or study sessions in the main body of the page.
  • Cues Section: Write key terms, questions, or prompts in the left-hand margin.
  • Summary Section: Summarize the main points at the bottom of the page after your study session.


  • Promotes active engagement with the material.
  • Encourages regular review and self-testing.

2. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual note-taking strategy that helps organize information in a non-linear format, making it easier to see relationships between concepts.

How to Create a Mind Map:

  • Central Idea: Write the main topic in the center of the page.
  • Branches: Create branches for subtopics, connecting them to the central idea.
  • Details: Add further details, examples, and connections to each subtopic.


  • Enhances understanding of complex relationships.
  • Stimulates creativity and improves memory retention.

3. The Outline Method

The Outline Method is a hierarchical system that organizes notes into main topics, subtopics, and details.

How to Use the Outline Method:

  • Main Topics: Use Roman numerals for main topics.
  • Subtopics: Use capital letters for subtopics.
  • Details: Use numbers and lowercase letters for additional details and examples.


  • Provides a clear and organized structure.
  • Makes it easy to review and find specific information.

4. Charting Method

The Charting Method involves creating tables or charts to organize information, especially useful for comparing and contrasting different concepts.

How to Use the Charting Method:

  • Columns: Create columns for categories or key concepts.
  • Rows: Fill in the rows with details, examples, and comparisons.


  • Simplifies complex information.
  • Useful for topics that require comparison and analysis.

5. Sentence Method

The Sentence Method involves writing every new piece of information on a separate line, which is useful for capturing detailed notes during fast-paced lectures or readings.

How to Use the Sentence Method:

  • Separate Lines: Write each new idea or fact on a new line.
  • Numbering: Number each line for easy reference.


  • Captures detailed information quickly.
  • Easy to review and identify key points.

Tips for Effective Note-Taking

1. Be Prepared: Before your study session, gather all necessary materials, including textbooks, articles, and your note-taking tools.

2. Use Abbreviations and Symbols: Develop a system of abbreviations and symbols to save time and keep your notes concise.

3. Stay Organized: Keep your notes well-organized by date and topic. Use folders or digital tools to categorize your notes.

4. Review Regularly: Regularly review your notes to reinforce your memory and identify areas that need further study.

5. Combine Methods: Don’t be afraid to combine different note-taking methods to suit the material and your learning style.

6. Highlight Key Points: Use colors, highlights, or underlining to emphasize important information.

7. Stay Engaged: Actively engage with the material by asking questions, making connections, and summarizing key points in your own words.

Using Technology for Note-Taking

1. Digital Note-Taking Apps: Use apps like OneNote, Evernote, or Notion to organize and access your notes across different devices.

2. Voice Recordings: Record lectures or study sessions (with permission) and transcribe key points later.

3. Online Flashcards: Create digital flashcards using tools like Quizlet to reinforce key concepts.

4. Cloud Storage: Store your notes in the cloud (e.g., Google Drive) for easy access and backup.

Final Thoughts

Effective note-taking is a crucial skill for BCBA candidates. By adopting and adapting various note-taking strategies, you can enhance your understanding, retention, and organization of the vast amount of information needed for the BCBA exam. Experiment with different methods to find what works best for you and integrate technology to streamline your note-taking process. Remember, well-organized and thorough notes are a key component of successful exam preparation. Good luck on your journey to becoming a BCBA!

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top