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The Cornell Note-Taking Method



The Cornell note-taking method is esteemed as one of the best note-taking methods out there. It was created by Walter Pauk, who was a professor and the director of the Reading and Study Center at Cornell University. He devised this note-taking system in the 1950s, and it is widely used by students all over the world today.


The Cornell note-taking method separates a piece of paper into three sections:



  1. The note-taking area: The largest section of the three sections. This is where students should write the important information from the lecture. The notes should be composed of concise, informative sentences. It should not be a transcript of what the teacher has said.

  2. The cue column: Along the side of the note-taking area, the cue column is where students write down their questions. Students can either write questions they have about the material or create questions to test themselves later. This helps the student contextualize and critically think about the material.

  3. The summary section: This section is for students to capture a quick glimpse of what this page of notes consists of. Critical thinking plays a big role in completing this process. The student is taking up the challenge of extracting the important information from the notes and transforming them into a short, clear summary.


One of the main benefits of the Cornell method is that it provides an inclusive method of note-taking. Rather than just taking notes, students are encouraged to examine the material and to think outside of the lecture. They can do this by writing out any concerns or potential review questions and then summarizing the information.




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