How to Improve Study Skills Using the Cornell Note Taking System


Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University in the 1950s, devised a note-taking system to help students develop better study skills. The Cornell Note-taking System recommends using a large loose-leaf notebook, which allows you to insert handouts, rearrange notes or remove notes for study. You can also use a spiral-bound notebook to take notes.

Things You'll Need

  • Loose leaf notebook
  • Loose leaf paper
  • Spiral bound notebook
  • Divide the paper into two columns, one 2-1/2 inches wide -- the cue column -- and the other 6 inches wide -- the notes column. Also leave a 2 inch space at the bottom of each page. During a class lecture take notes on the right hand side of the page.

  • Write questions that relate to the notes in the left-hand column. For example, if you took notes about how to calculate the volume of a cube on the right side of the page, you may ask the question, "How do you calculate the volume of a cube?" on the left side of the page. When you think of questions based on your notes, you are interacting with the information and it is helps you to learn and memorize what you are studying.

  • Cover the right-hand column so you can only see the questions. Answer the questions as you review them. If you can't remember the answer to your questions, remove the cover from the the page and read back your notes.

  • Review the notes for each class for 10 minutes every week.

  • Use the 2 inch space at the bottom of the page to summarize the notes on the page.


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