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Study Skills: Cornell notes

Tips and tricks to help you be an even better student

Cornell notes icon

This note taking system was invented by Dr. Walter Paulk of Cornell University. It's an excellent system for organising and reviewing your class notes. Being organised and frequently reviewing your notes improves your understanding and retention of the information. That means less cramming around exam time and improved marks.



What you need:

A notebook or folder with loose leaf pages. Ideally they have dividers to separate your subjects

A pen and ruler

What you do:

Divide the page into 3, like the picture below.

The right, larger column is where you write your notes in class.

The left column is the Review/Self Test Area. After class, usually within 24 hours, write key words or brief phrases that summarise the main points of the class. Develop and write potential test questions that you think the teacher could ask on a test. Creating practice test questions, called Self-Testing, is a powerful study strategy that significantly increases your understanding of the material and long term retention of the information. Cover the right side of the page to hide the answers and test yourself!

The area at the bottom of the page is where you summarise the class in your own words. Creating a summary helps you identify what you understand, as well as highlighting information you need help with. 

Pro tip: Rule up a few pages in your notebook before you need them. Try doing this while you take a break from homework in the evenings or after you have finished reading over the days class notes.  


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