Cornell Notes

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The Cornell Notes system (also Cornell note-taking system, Cornell method, or Cornell way) is a note-taking system devised in the 1940s by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University. Pauk advocated its use in his best-selling book How to Study in College.[1]

Overview of method[edit]

The Cornell method provides a systematic format for condensing and organizing notes. The student divides the paper into two columns: the note-taking column (usually on the right) is twice the size of the questions/key word column (on the left). The student should leave five to seven lines, or about two in (5 cm), at the bottom of the page.

Notes from a lecture or teaching are written in the note-taking column; notes usually consist of the main ideas of the text or lecture, and long ideas are paraphrased. Long sentences are avoided; symbols or abbreviations are used instead. To assist with future reviews, relevant questions (which should be recorded as soon as possible so that the lecture and questions will be fresh in the student's mind) or key words are written in the key word column. These notes can be taken from any source of information, such as fiction books, DVDs, lectures, text books, etc.[2]

Within 24 hours of taking the notes, the student must revise and write questions and then write a brief summary in the bottom five to seven lines of the page. This helps to increase understanding of the topic. When studying for either a test or quiz, the student has a concise but detailed and relevant record of previous classes.

When reviewing the material, the student can cover the note-taking (right) column while attempting to answer the questions/keywords in the key word or cue (left) column. The student is encouraged to reflect on the material and review the notes regularly.[3]

Studies on effectiveness[edit]

A study published in 2010 by Wichita State University compared two note taking methods in a secondary English classroom, and found that Cornell Note taking may be of added benefit in cases where students are required to synthesize and apply learned knowledge, while the guided notes method appeared to be better for basic recall.[4]

Cornell format is one of the most frequently suggested note taking format by university websites for student support. [5] However, Cornell notes might be less effective than taking regular notes for certain subjects.[6]

Another study published in the summer of 2013 found that "Students who were taught CN (Cornell notes) did take better notes than those who were not, but they did not have higher achievement results." The study also stated that "Through analysis of assessment scores, I found no significant difference between the intervention and base classes on achievement."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Herr, Norman; Joens, Ross J. Q. (2008) [1962], The Sourcebook for Teaching Science, Grades 6-12: Strategies, Activities, and Instructional Resources (10 ed.), Cengage Learning, ISBN 978-1-4390-8446-5 
  2. ^ "How to take notes as a law student - Becoming A Lawyer". Becoming A Lawyer. 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  3. ^ Wong, Linda (2014-01-01). Essential Study Skills (8 ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 288. ISBN 1285430093. 
  4. ^ Jacobs, Keil. A Comparison of Two Note Taking Methods in a Secondary English Classroom Proceedings: 4th Annual Symposium: Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects [79] Conference proceedings held at the Eugene Hughes Metropolitan Complex, Wichita State University, April 25, 2008. Symposium Chair: David M. Eichhorn
  5. ^
  6. ^ "How to take notes as a law student - Becoming A Lawyer". Becoming A Lawyer. 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  7. ^ Broe, Duane (Summer 2013). "The Effects of Teaching Cornell Notes on Student Achievement" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-05-12.  External link in |website= (help)

External links[edit]