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Taking Lecture Notes: The Cornell Method

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Reduce ideas to concise jottings and summaries as cues for reciting

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Record the lecture as fully and as meaningfully as possible.

Cornell Method This sheet demonstrates the Cornell method of taking classroom notes. It is recommended by experts from the Learning Center at Cornell University.
Line drawn down paper You should draw a line down your note page about 2 1/2 inches from the left side. On the right side of the line simply record your classroom notes as you usually do. Record on one side of page only and write legibly.
After the lecture After the lecture you should read the notes, use your textbook to fill in any information you missed and underline important information. Mark any items that are unclear. Ask another classmate for their notes.
Use the Recall Column Key Phrases The recall column on the left will help you when you study for your tests. Jot down any important words or key phrases in the recall column. This activity forces you to rethink and summarize your notes. The key words should stick in your mind.
Five R's The Five R's will help you take better notes based on the Cornell Method:
Record 1. Record any information given during the lecture that you believe will be important.
Reduce 2. When you reduce your information you are summarizing and listing key words/phrases in the recall column.
Recite 3. Cover the notes you took for your class. Test yourself on the words in the recall section. This is what we mean by recite, say the words out loud. This multi-sensory approach will improve your recall.
Reflect 4. You should reflect on the information you received during the lecture. Determine how your ideas fit in with the information.
Review If you review your notes within 24 hours, you will remember a great deal more when you take your test.
Notebook & Paper Remember it is a good idea to keep your notes in a 3-ring notebook. Also you should use only full-sized paper. You will be able to add handout materials easily to your notebook.
Hints Abbreviations and symbols should be used when possible. Abbrev. & sym. give you time when used auto.
Summary Record a brief summary in your own words at the bottom of the page within 24 hours of the lecture. This gives you the opportunity to check your overall comprehension and strengthen memory.


Walter Pauk, Cornell University

Textbook Study Skills

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