Successful students understand the importance of effective note taking to improve their study skills and overall academic performance. Students who develop a clear and concise method of notetaking will reap the rewards when it comes time to take an exam. For instance, most students tend to forget the important points in a lecture or informational audiotape if they have not engaged in active listening. An effective note taking system can remove the sticking points of worrying whether or not the student absorbed all of the information. In addition, effective note taking skills encourages active listening by writing down key points stated by the teacher. Lastly, students who take effective notes will have testable material in front of them when it comes time to study for the final exam.
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Students who understand the importance of taking notes may not have a comprehensive note taking system to study for an exam successfully. Unfortunately, no single note taking method suits all students, because everybody has a different learning style. Therefore, a successful student will pinpoint their individual learning styles and then choose the appropriate note taking method for them. However, many students and businessmen have tested the Cornell method of notetaking and vouch for its effectiveness for lectures and reading of organized material arranged by topic, subtopic, and supporting details. The Cornell method of notetaking also provides students with an effective study system. By incorporating the six steps in the Cornell method of notetaking, each student can succeed in studying for their exams.
The first step in the Cornell method of note taking involves properly recording the details as the teacher rambles off the important points in a lecture. Students can prepare to record these details by creating a two-column table with their loose-leaf paper. The left-hand side of the loose-leaf paper should measure out to one-third of the note taker’s writing space, which leaves a remaining two-thirds for recording the necessary details. Students should only use one side of the paper when using the Cornell method of note taking. Next, the student paraphrases the facts presented in the lecture into their own words. All students should record definitions and then highlight them accordingly in the Cornell method of note taking. Students who use the Cornell notetaking method should use headings or spaces to indicate when a topic changes. In addition, the note taker should use numbers, indentations, and bullets to highlight key ideas presented in the lecture. Students who incorporate the Cornell notetaking method will learn to use brief sentences, abbreviations, and symbols to increase their overall speed while taking notes.
Students that use the Cornell notetaking method do not stop at simply recording the lecture details. In fact, they generate test questions based on the recorded information in the notes. As dictated by the Cornell note taking method, each of these test questions belong on the left-hand column of the notes in the “recall clues” section. Students should emphasize the questions based on the most important points discussed in the lecture, such as definitions and other core principles within the curriculum. Generating these test questions will not only help students evaluate their own ability to retain the information, it will have the student thinking like the professor who presented it in the first place.
The third step in the Cornell note taking method involves recitation of the recorded material. In other words, the note taker must explain the recorded information out loud in their own words. Note takers should recite the information recorded in the “recall section” located on the left-hand column of the worksheet as per instructed by the Cornell note taking method. Recitation has proven to help students improve their overall learning ability, understand the core curriculum, and retrieve the stored information. Students should test their ability to recite the correct answers to the generated test questions by covering the recorded information with a blank sheet of paper. Students can also create flashcards with a series of clues on them to help in answering the questions. Afterward, the student can uncover the answers to see how they performed.
The fourth step in the Cornell notes method involves reflecting on the learned information. Students can search for previous experiences and observations that connect with the facts and main ideas shared in class. In addition, students should ask how the main ideas fit with previously learned subjects, what they agree or disagree with the material, and which ideas remain clear to them. The Cornell notes method will help students fully comprehend the “bigger picture” when they choose to reflect on the material in front of them.
The last two steps of the Cornell notes method involve summarizing and reviewing the recorded information. Students should start off by writing a summary of the main ideas in their own words as dictated in the previous steps of the Cornell method. Note taking essentially aims to condense the verbosity of a lecture into the key points as illustrated in the Cornell method. Note taking also aims to organize all of these details to make it easier when it comes to study before an exam. Effective note takers will compose their summary on the last page of their notes. Afterward, the note takers can start to review the outline before them in full as dictated by the Cornell method. Note taking should involve the act of reviewing the course material on a nightly basis or at least several times a week. Students who frequently review their notes will remember them over a long period of time, which will help at the end of each semester.
Follow these links to learn more about the Cornell Notetaking Method:
- The Cornell Note-taking System (PDF)
- Cornell Notetaking System to Help Organize to Take One’s Notes
- The Cornell System for Note-Taking
- Using the Cornell Note-Taking System (PDF)
- The Basics of Effective Learning: Cornell Note-Taking Format Example
- The University of Maine-Fort Kent: The Cornell Method of Taking Effective Notes
- Methods Of Note Taking: Cornell
- Taking Lecture Notes: The Cornell Method for Highly Effective Learners