There are many different ways of taking notes in school or at the university. Some prefer to take a structured approach and use an outline method to take notes, some may prefer a visual way and draw mind maps, some may even use no structure at all. However, there is one note-taking technique that is superior to others in many cases and science has proven that it is not only more efficient but also makes it a lot easier to review notes, for example when preparing for an exam.
The technique we‘re referring to is called “Cornell Note Taking”. It is a system for taking, organizing and reviewing notes and has been devised by Prof. Walter Pauk of Cornell University in the 1950s.
How to use itIt requires very little preparation which makes it ideal for note taking in class. The page will be divided into 4 — or sometimes only 3 — different sections: Two columns, one area at the bottom of the page, and one smaller area at the top of the page.
The idea behind this is very easy. All actual notes from the lecture go into the main note-taking column.
The smaller column on the left side is for questions about the notes that can be answered when reviewing and keywords or comments that make the whole reviewing and exam preparation process easier.
When reviewing the notes, a brief summary of every page should be written into the section at the bottom.
Besides being a very efficient way of taking great notes in class, Cornell note taking is THE perfect tip for exam preparation. Why you might ask. The system itself encourages students to reflect on their notes by summarizing them briefly in their own words. Often, this can already be enough to remember study notes and to successfully pass an exam. When reviewing your notes it is useful to reorder objects on the page, for example, to add a solution to an answer on the side to the notes.
Check out the Study Resource page for a quick guide on notes taking.
Would you use the Cornell Notes method?