The Cornell method for notes

The Cornell method of notes was devised in years 50 by an expert in techniques of study of the University of Cornell, Walter Pauk.

YEARS 50! We are speaking of a time at which the students took notes always on paper, to pen and pencil. The portable ones did not exist, obvious. The ball-point pen began to commercialize itself by that one time (mythical brand BIC), although I do not know when it became popular between the students.

University of Cornell

University of Cornell

In spite of its antiquity, this method continues very being commented nowadays, so I thought to give an opportunity him. For that reason I have begun it to try in chats of congresses. This method has two parts: A) To prepare the leaves of notes according to a group; and B) To learn to use the group.



Group of the Cornell method

Group of the Cornell method

  • Greatest to take notes in class
  • A column to the left to write words or phrases nails when you review the notes.
  • A zone inferior to write down a summary or ideas nails of the content of the leaf.


1º-Take notes in class in the great zone.

2º-Despu©s of class (not more than 24 hours later), to reread and to write questions in the left zone lateral that are answered with the content of the notes.

3º-Recite the read thing: to cover the great zone, to read the questions and to try to answer them aloud.

4º-Reflect on the read thing: meaning, general norms that are applied, what relation has with other subjects€¦

5º-Review every week the notes thus preparations using for it the left zone, and if it is precise, to make a still more concise summary in the area inferior.

First problem that I am when use this system: I have very little space to write during the chat. Although on the scheme it seems that we have much space, when you put yourself to write is done to me very small. That means that hourly of chat it is going to me to occupy several leaves more of the normal thing, which puts a little to me nervous€¦ My format of notes is going to change significantly.

A smaller problem: when I arrive at house and review the writing, I am with that I am not going to remove too much benefit from the left zone to put short key words or phrases. Probably one is due to that I am using this method to take notes from subjects that or I know, which causes that my notes or are very outlined from the home. If I am not going to use that zone, I believe that it is enough to me with the one of down€¦ What it takes first conclusion to me: if you already know the subject the chat, it does without the lateral space. Conferences of your field, congresses, sessions of experts€¦ It is enough with letting a free strip down to write down conclusions.

Nevertheless, it seems to me a success of this method reserving spaces for summaries and keywords. When you study Medicine that space comes or to include anatomical drawings or schemes to accompany the writing in class. In fact, I used to indeed leave an ample margin to the left for that in my notes of the faculty (good, and to make cartoons of the professors, but that is another subject). But it seems to me useful to clearly separate the zone of notes and the one of summary with an air line, to be able to differently use thus each zone when reviewing.

If the class is something confused, it is possible that you must use the lateral zone to rewrite the subject, or even that you must pass the notes to clean or using notes of other years. At the outset it seems that much paper squanders, but I believe that if takings notes by hand is worth the trouble to prove the system. However, when search awhile of work to review the notes of all the classes of the day€¦ that already is another history.

If takings notes in portable, it is not necessary to use a special group, because soon in your short while of study you will be able to modify and to complement the notes as much as you want and the software allows you that you are using. Although they say that way that to take notes in computer it does not allow to retain the equal information of good that if the takings by hand, but that is subject for another post.


You use the folio in vertical as as much people, or you organize yourself differently?

Animate to you to share your experiences in the commentaries.

Almudena Trinidad

I am otorrinolaring³loga doctor in a hospital of Madrid and Professor Asociada de Medicina in the UAM. I help Medicine students to develop more effective techniques of study to obtain better notes, to remember during more time and to feel like more happy insurances and with its studies.

8 Commentaries
  • Marian
    Published to 16:28 h, 20 November To respond

    Hello! The truth is that unconsciously I take using a similar method enough time, before used to take notes to computer, but I realized of which it distracted me more easily and then I returned to the paper and the ball-point pen. Although soon normally I use also notes of other years to study in depth, use the margins of the leaves annotations and ground to alongside summarize each paragraph in a few words, I believe that she works!
    The blog is a wonder, by the way.
    A greeting.

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 17:27 h, 20 November To respond

      Thanks to happen to you. Then yes, I also used a system similar but only leaving a margin to the amplest left for my annotations.
      In any case, in fact the Cornell method is not limited how to organize the leaf of notes space, but it implies a specific system of revision in the time, as it follows:
      1º Tomar the notes
      2º Few hours after the class, to write questions in the left margin that are answered with the writing during the class. Those questions serve to reflect on the notes and to review more ahead.
      3º Recitar the notes following the questions or key words of the left margin, but with your own words. In the low part, to summarize the text.
      4º Reflexionar on the content of the notes.
      5º Revisar during 10 minutes every week to at least maintain the fresh content.

      Clearly, if we had time to do all this every day, we would be students model. Being realistic, I believe that 2º of the subjects can be complimented at least partly until the point. I began I begin of course and soon the partisans arrived and everything rescinded an order€¦ Perhaps it is practice question.

      A greeting and thanks to comment!

  • Recommendations of week II €œMondo Medico
    Published to 06:05 h, 23 November To respond

    I have been with this commentary that did not know if to approve, since it seems automatic. But it I go to do, because it comes from a blog that did not know and has good dot,

    [€¦] It dominates the Medicine, a very interesting blog for students of Sciences of the Health, propose the Cornell Method to us [€¦]

    She is of a resident Andalusian and I finish putting it in my reader of feeds. And it has mentioned to me in his recommendations of the week, consequently I am of subid³n. I advise you that you read the 10 orders €œread€ that they also recommend in that post, because a few can be applied to the life of the university student.

  • Method Cornell €“ Beneberak
    Published to 13:42 h, 28 November To respond

    [€¦] You can read the original article here [€¦]

  • Nelson C³rdova
    Published to 00:10 h, 21 July To respond

    Hello. I am Nelson C³rdova of El Salvador, to fascinate to me to be ordered in everything what I do and until today I know the Cornell Method.}}.

    I would like to receive but information about, and as I can put it in practice in my professional life. At the moment I am studying English language and fodder that serious me of much utility.

    If it can provide to me specific websites about the Cornell Method I will thank for it

    Thanks beforehand.

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 10:01 h, 21 July To respond

      Hello, Nelson. I really do not know any site that develops with more detail the Cornell method. Perhaps one is due to that it is many years old, and although is very effective, is not object of courses at the moment with which to make money. Simply use it and adapt it to your personality as you are seeing more suitable.

      For languages it will come to you brilliant to review with applications of flashcards Anki type. You have proven Them?

      A greeting 🙂

  • vanesa
    Published to 01:46 h, 12 January To respond

    Hello I am medicine student of first year you would thank but to advice to me

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 19:32 h, 17 February To respond

      Uf, goes ampler request€¦ I recommend to you to read a few articles of the blog to know more techniques:

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