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49 Years of Success
Established in 1974

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Cornell Method of Taking Notes


The Cornell method was devised in the 1950s by Cornel University lecturer Walter Pauk. It involves condensing and organizing notes using a specific page layout and the completion of several steps.

How To Use The Cornell Method

The method is easy to do and all you need is a piece of paper, or a word processing document, a pen or pencil and ruler:

Step 1 – first take a piece of paper and draw a line horizontally about 5cms from the bottom of the page. This is the where the summary will be written. Now, draw a vertical line down the page to meet the horizontal line about 5cms from the left-hand side of the page. This column will be the cue column. The larger column, on the right, is where you’ll fill in your notes.

Step 2 – when you come across the main ideas in the text, note them down in the large right-hand column. Use bullet points or underline important words or phrases, but make sure that you only note down short phrases – do not copy text word for word.

Step 3 – after you’ve finished reading and taking notes, use the left-hand column to write cues. Cues are words, questions or thoughts that the lesson has prompted.

Step 4 – next, in the summary section, write just two or three lines, and it’s important that there are in your own words, about the topics you’ve covered.

Step 5 – finally, leave the notes for 24 hours. Then, cover up the right-hand column and see if you can still remember the details of the lesson using only the prompts you written in the left-hand column.

Carrying out this process will fix the information in your mind and give you a concise set of summarised notes you can refer back to time and again.