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Advanced Standing: Cornell Notes

Links and support for advanced standing students!

Taking Notes

There are many different note taking styles.  No matter which style you employ, it will benefit you as a college student to take notes during your classes.  The information on this page has been adapted from website: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-use-Cornell-Notes/.


The Cornell Notes Format was created int eh 1950s by Walker Pauk, who was a professor at Cornell.  The system provides a format for taking and summarizing notes.  Studies show that Cornell Notes are the best way to synthesize and apply what you need to know.

How to Use Cornell Notes by Pettocity

The Steps

Step 1: The Format

The format for Cornell Notes includes 2 columns and 3 rows.  See the format to the left.

Step 2. Name and Title

  • Start by writing your name in the upper-right hand corner of the upper row (section 1).  Below this, write the date and the class name.
  • Now, write the title of the paper/lecture/book lesson/whatever you are taking notes from in the upper row, over by the left side.

Step 3: What Goes Where

Now you are almost ready to start taking notes in your new format, but you still need to know what goes where.

  • In section 2, you put the main points. This can include, but is not limited to: key points, keywords, and vocabulary words. Basically, in this section, summarize each individual note that you took into its main point.  
  • In section 3, you put the actual notes. This can include bulleted points, definitions, roman numeral-type notes, and various kinds of charts--anything you think you will need to know.
  • In section 4, you put an overall summary.  This should be anywhere from a few sentences to a paragraph long.  In section 2, you summarized each individual note into its main point.  Here, you summarize everything, notes, key points, into the main ideas that are related. This helps you understand/remember all the information.

Step 4: When Each is Used

Before beginning, you should know:

  • Section 1 comes first.
  • Section 2 and 3 are used at the same time. Depending on the order that each is given, you either put down the key point or the note first. Then, add the other, and vice versa.
  • Section 4 comes last. Do not start writing in this section until the class/lecture is over. Then, you can summarize all the information into this section.

Step 5: How to Use

  • So, you have taken great notes, and summarized everything. Now what? ---Now, you absorb what you have written. Take a sheet of paper and cover either section 2 or 3. Now using only the information in the uncovered column, you must either expand or summarize the information in the uncovered column into the information in the covered column.
  • Do this again and again, until you can explain each concept. This helps you improve recall and understanding.
  • Also, cover section 4 (the summary), and using only the information in sections two and three, synthesize the information into a summary.  Add to the summary as appropriate.