Monday, 31 December 2012

How To Take Notes - Cornell Notes

This post is the second in my series on note-taking. If you haven't already, take a look at my post on pictorial notes here.

What Are Cornell Notes?
Cornell notes is a system devised by a university professor at Cornell University which is more structured than other approaches to note-taking I have come across. It is a very organised way of making notes that can accurately record in-class discussions or lectures and be used as a revision aid afterwards. Despite this, very few students have actually heard of them.

How To Make Cornell Notes
 It involves splitting your page into three sections:
  1. Notes - this is where you record the information you want to retain. Be sure to keep them short and to-the-point, with plenty of space around each point. There is nothing more off-putting come revision time than a dense slab of words.
  2. Cues - I prefer to place short questions beside the corresponding notes so I can 'test' myself quickly and easily. Formulating questions on your own notes are a great way to make you really consider which points are most important and what you need to know about them.
  3. Summary - I think that this is the most innovative aspect of the Cornell notes system. Most people don't consider writing a summary for each separate page of notes - even if they are on the same concept. This really forces you to look over your notes and understand them because you have to condense your notes, whist retaining the main ideas. The summary is especially useful for quick skimming when you are short of time.
  • Uber-organised notes
  • Two ways to revise from them: answering questions and quick review
  • Forces you to revisit your notes after making them, so you are more likely to retain the information
  • Having to rule across your entire pad of paper! (as an alternative you could simply print this template)
  • Having less space per page for actual notes.
What do you think of Cornell notes? Do you already use them? Leave a comment below.

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