Take Notes, Orange County!

Note taking is a skill we’re supposed to learn early on in our education. However, as we age we develop into individuals with different learning styles, which is why we developed these note taking tips. While one kind of note taking works wonders for one student, another will find confusing. With these articles we hope to introduce you to note taking methods you may have not seen before, and give a different view of the ones you have. Today we’ll be looking at an old favorite of primary school teachers: the Cornell Method. Surprisingly, this long-used note taking method can still be beneficial to students today.


First, let’s talk about how to set up a Cornell note taking sheet. Make sure the date and title of the class and lecture are available. It makes it easier in the future to remember lectures when that information is present. You’ll make a vertical line down the page, leaving the right side larger than the left. You’ll also leave a large block at the bottom to add summary notes. Essentially, your writing space will look like an upside down “T.” The left portion will be for memory cues and questions, and the right is used for notes. Again, the bottom should be filled out after all the notes are taken; this space is used to write overall ideas and themes. Your page would look something like the example below:

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 11.03.15 AM

Don’t Write Every Word

When in class, you’ll be primarily taking notes on the right hand side. Staying even with your notes, jot down some key words (cues) in the left hand column. Keep your notes short and concise. You shouldn’t be trying to write every word, just the important information. Use bullets, outlining, underlining, or anything that will keep you organized and allow you to retain information. If the professor asks questions that sound “test worthy,” those would be perfect to add to the left column in line with coordinating notes.

What you want to have by the end of class is the right hand column filled with important information, and the left hand column containing key words and questions you can use to test yourself with. It will be easy in the future to cover one or the other column and test your ability to match phrases or questions with correct answers.


Just taking the notes won’t guarantee a good grade, however. It’s up to you to continue using that great resource to your advantage. Study for a few minutes a day, going over the summary notes and quizzing yourself on a few of the questions. It may be an old fashioned, but as you can see the Cornell Method is still useful in the twenty-first century.

Our tutors have college degrees and know what it takes to be successful. For instance, being a competent and efficient note taker will give you the advantage when you start taking difficult college courses. Ask your Orange County private tutor how he or she takes notes.

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