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Cornell Note taking

I was revisiting Raul Pacheco’s website recently and was reminded of note taking skills. Since I’ve been taking notes on Local Journalism and Local Media, I wanted to try some new styles. I wrote about it a while ago but haven’t really had a chance to actually take notes. I’ve been busy writing straight onto either Word documents or in spreadsheets.

This is the first time I’ve tried the Cornell note-taking method and it’s been really good. I do actually look back over my notes and answer the questions to recall information (a more useful strategy than just reading), and I easily get into the habit of writing questions for myself in the margins.

I start in the following way. I divide my page into three columns:

  1. Page number column: one thin margin on the left where I put the page numbers,
  2. Question column: one slightly biggish column on the right, for questions, and a
  3. Note taking column: the middle section of the page for note taking.

There’s a better template here, which you can print out. It’s provided by the Research Insiders blog so all credit to them.

The following instructions are from Cornell University. The original instructions are from How to Study in College 7/e by Walter Pauk, 2001 Houghton Mifflin Company

1. Record: During the lecture, use the note-taking column to record the lecture using telegraphic sentences.
2. Questions: As soon after class as possible, formulate questions based on the notes in the right-hand column. Writing questions helps to clarify meanings, reveal relationships, establish continuity, and strengthen
memory. Also, the writing of questions sets up a perfect stage for exam-studying later.
3. Recite: Cover the note-taking column with a sheet of paper. Then, looking at the questions or cue-words in the question and cue column only, say aloud, in your own words, the answers to the questions, facts, or ideas
indicated by the cue-words.
4. Reflect: Reflect on the material by asking yourself questions, for example:
“What’s the significance of these facts? What principle are they based on? How can I apply them? How do they fit in with what I already know? What’s beyond them?
5. Review: Spend at least ten minutes every week reviewing all your previous notes. If you do, you’ll retain a great deal for current use, as well as, for the exam.

For those who haven’t tried it, Raul Pacheco’s blog is an incredible resource for doctoral studies.


Published by Joanna

A collection of fleeting thoughts that tend to focus around Bristol, food, movies, music and photography.

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