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The Cornell Note-Taking System

Do you find that your notes are useless to you in studying for tests? Do you seem to forget major points and remember minor details? Do you seem to have trouble understanding what you've written down? If so, try the five steps of the Cornell system of note taking to help make notes clear and to aid in memorizing the facts. If you have not yet developed an approach to note taking, then start out right-faithfully followed, this system CAN make a difference.

 

Recall Column

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Reduce ideas after class into a few words.

Record Column

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Record the lectures as fully as possible.

1. Record in class.

During the lecture, write as many facts as you can. Use shorthand to get the full idea. Leave spaces between ideas so you can fill in more later.

2. Reduce after class.

As soon after class as possible, summarize these ideas and facts in as few words as possible in the Recall Column. This helps show relationships between points and strengthens memory. It also prepares you for exams gradually and well ahead of time.

3. Recite from the Recall Column

Now cover the main or Record Column. Using only the words in the Recall Column, say over the facts as fully as you can in your own words! Then, uncover your notes and check what you have said against the facts. This will help transfer ideas to your long term memory.

4. Reflect on possible test questions and mark unclear points.

Thinking aids in making sense out of the notes by finding relationships and order in the material. Try to put ideas in categories and tie old material to the new. Also, think about which points will appear on tests and highlight any unclear points so you can ask questions about them before the next lecture.

5. Review to improve your memory.

If you will spend ten (10) minutes every week or so in a quick review of these old notes, you will retain most of what you have learned and you will relate the facts and ideas to present lectures or readings.