Cornell Notes

Cornell Notes


Cornell Notes is a system of making and using notes that promotes active learning. Before the lecture (or reading) you set up your notebook pages with a vertical line dividing the page roughly 1/4 (left) and 3/4 right. The wider right side is used to make notes, draw graphs and record the important information from the lecture or reading. It’s a good idea to leave a line or two between each major note or piece of information. The left column is used to write questions and keywords that relate to the information recorded on the right. Each major point on the right ought to have a question or keyword on the left.

Depending on the speed of the professor and the amount of information that needs recording in the right column, you may or may not have time to write the questions and keywords in the left column. If you do, that’s great. If you don’t, then you should fill in the left column as soon as possible, and for sure before the end of the day. The questions and keywords serve an important function. You will be using these to remember the key points in the right column during several practice sessions.

Once you have the questions and keywords in the left column, you are ready to do a practice session. Use a blank sheet of paper to cover the right column. Now, without peeking, look at the questions and keywords on the left and try to remember the information on the right. Say the answers to yourself, or write them down on the blank sheet. Don’t just say to yourself, “I know that…” You want to be able to repeat or paraphrase the information on the right with good accuracy. If it is information that needs to be perfect (e.g., a formula), then that is what you want. However, if it is information that is more general, then an accurate paraphrase is probably better. Your first practice session should be as soon as possible, ideally right after class if you have a spare period, or in your first break. If you wait too long, you will find that you can’t remember much of the information in the right column. If that’s the case, then you waited too long. As you practice, Keep Score. If you remembered the information accurately and without peeking, then give yourself a tick under the question or keyword on the left. If you had to peek or didn’t remember the information very well, give yourself an “X.”

This would help to memorize better and find your loopholes easily.

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