Six Ways Cornell Note Taking Can Help You Learn

by Sarah Adams

The popular Cornell Note Taking System AKA "Cornell Notes" comprises "5 R's of note-taking," including recording, reducing, reciting, reflecting, and reviewing, with different sections of the page serving different functions. While the method may initially seem complex, advocates tout the many advantages of this study strategy. Here are six ways in which Cornell Notes can help you maximize your class time and learn more.

1. It's Simple, But High Level

Many students spend entire class periods frantically scribbling down words leaving themselves little time to absorb and fully comprehend the material. Cornell Notes offer a systematic, interactive note taking process which is not only organized, but ultimately more productive. With Cornell Notes, students aren't just absently jotting down words, but are instead actively listening and employing higher level thinking skills.

2. Easy Access to Key Words and Concepts

If you've ever flipped through your notebook again and again to find a particular concept but came up empty-handed, you know how frustrating it is to deal with pages and pages of disorganized notes. Cornell Notes are inherently well-ordered, allowing students to easily access key words and concepts. The results? A process which accelerates and optimizes the study process.

3. From Notes to Study Guide

Today's students have endless resources when it comes to preparing for exams. Unfortunately, all of this information can become overwhelming. Cornell Notes offer a framework to help students prepare for periodic tests as well as midterm and final exams. Rather than adding to the amount of information that must be retained, Cornell Notes become an organizational tool. Feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to even begin? Cornell Notes offer the perfect starting point.

4. Aesthetics Matter

An abundance of research shows that clutter interferes with cognitive thinking skills. There's nothing more cluttered than a messy page of notes. Rather than impeding your studies by subjecting yourself to the visual and mental clutter of inferior note taking, Cornell Notes promotes clearer thinking and enhanced peace of mind.

5.They're Multi-Purpose

Cornell Notes aren't simply for traditional lecture settings. Rather, they are effective in any circumstance during which note taking is required. From written texts to Powerpoint presentations, Cornell Notes can be applied and leveraged into better results.

6. From Short-Term to Long-Term Memory

If you've ever struggled to remember what you just learned in class, you're probably familiar with the term, "In one ear and out the other." Cornell Notes' writing and reviewing process helps note takers transfer information from short-term to long-term memory so key concepts are reinforced and retained. Research shows that students who do nothing with the information they learn in lectures may lose as much as 80 percent of what they learned by the next day. If your current note taking process isn't working for you, Cornell Notes may offer a smart solution.