Note taking is of course a critical piece of a strong case delivery, so it will pay off to practice this early on in your preparation.
Whatever system you chose (and practice), it needs to fulfill 3 main purposes:
There are certainly many different styles of note taking that provide these three functions, so you should find our which one works for you and enables you to focus on the case execution, rather than the note taking. Keep in mind that you should practice this system early on in your journey, so you are comfortable with this method when you go into the interviews.
Find below a screenshot of the notetaking system that works for me personally. In this system, I first draw one vertical and one horizontal line. Then I use the column on the left side to take the initial notes during the case prompt and clarifying questions. Then I write down the key question of the case in the top row and develop the framework in the main area on the page.
During the case, I scribble less important stuff on separate pages (e.g. notes during the quant part). However, I will write down the key insights of each branch of the framework at the bottom of my main page. That way, when I get to the recommendation, I can simply read the notes from left to right to have the supporting arguments for the case recommendation.
1) Decide physical vs virtual - are you a faster typer or writer?
2) If virtual, pick the best tool - try outlook draft emails (so you can store/organize with your email), try notepad, try a tablet so you can write on it, etc....find the one that works for you
3) Only write down what is important - you should know this! You don't need to capture everything. Just like in a case, figuring out what information is not needed is just as valuable as figuring out what information is needed.
4) And then, what you do write down, write it in shorthand!
I.e. If I say "Your client is Bills Bottles. They earn $800M in profits each year by manufacturing bottles to soda companies in the US and Europe. Over the past two years they've seen profits falling and have brought you in to investigate"
You should write:
I would suggest to divide the first page into 4 parts as below:
Landscape format in general works better. Sometimes you will have to go back and forth, as you may get information, objective 1, additional information, objective 2, etc.
The vertical line should be closer to the left border and the horizontal line should be closer to the top border so that there is more space for the structure.
After the first page, you can structure as below:
The vertical line can now be in the middle so that the left and right parts have the same distance.
Besides that, you can also improve your notes with the following:
Hope this helps,
Here's a repost from a previous thread:
That's a common challenge. I had someone ask me just yesterday.
My take on this is the following: It's really hard to do both at the same time and I find that it's typically better to listen more, writing only the key points, than to try to capture everything.
The challenge is really because everyone is anxious to try and capture everything in writing and this makes it even harder to listen. Nobody is looking at your notes (even if they collect them afterward) so the point is to help you solve the case, not to create a structured write-up! I encourage you to make it easier for yourself by only writing down key points that you will not remember unless you have recorded them.
Why do I think this? A few reasons:
So, bottom line, my advice is to only write down what needs writing down and this way you'll have a much easier time capturing all the key information in your head.
One other approach to consider: I have seen some interviewees come prepared with a structured sheet for notetaking, with different pre-labeled sections that they complete during the prompt. I don't love this idea, but it's pretty neat and might work for you.
Best of luck,
it might be useful to practice with any kind of text. Use the descriptions of the cases that you find online. The more you do it, the more you become accustomed to what’s relevant and what’s not. Interview simulations with somebody who's more experienced than you will help, too.
Tips for more efficiency:
Use abbreviations, write in shorthand. It doesn’t matter what signs and letters you use as long as it works for you.
Divide the sheet into sections and use them for different types of information.
Try a mind-map approach.
Always write down the entire question and go back to it before answering every part of the case.
Hope it was helpful,
Hi Ahmed, this question has been answered many times in the Q&A forum before. Please search.