The Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is a note taking strategy in which a note taker splits each page into two main sections and includes a summary of the information that he or she recorded in those sections at the end of each day’s notes. All of the major topics, subtopics, and key terms that a note taker learns on a particular day are written in the first section, which is typically located on the left hand side of the page. All of the actual details about the major topics, subtopics, and key terms that a note taker learns on a particular day are written in the second section, which is typically located on the right hand side of the page. The note taker then writes a summary, which is typically located at the bottom of the page (or on the back of the page if you were required to take a lot of notes), that provides a brief rundown of the information that the note taker learned on that particular day. This strategy can be very helpful when your teacher or professor is trying to teach a lot of information in a single class or is trying to teach you a lot of key terms and concepts.

It is important to note, however, that there are a couple of things that you should know about the Cornell Method before you use it.

    Cornell Method Details

  • First, to use the Cornell Method, you have to be able to distinguish key points from details. This is important because one of the main advantages of the Cornell Method is that it will allow you to create a list of the key terms and points that you need to study and a list of the details that are related to those points. This means that you can cover up the details that are on one side of the page and use the list of key terms on the other side of the page to test your knowledge of the subject that you’re reviewing. It is, therefore, important for you to make sure that your list has all of the key terms that were covered because you won’t be able to use the list in the way that is intended if it is not a complete list.
  • Secondly, if you’re trying to use the Cornell Method, it is usually a good idea to leave a lot of extra space after each of the main topics and/or subtopics that you are describing in the detail section and to use shorthand whenever possible. This is important because the Cornell Method, by its very nature, limits the amount of space that you have to write, and you have to make sure that you can fit all of the information that you need to write for each topic.


Examples of the Cornell Note-Taking System

Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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