Tips and Tricks

Cornell Note Taking Method

The Cornell Note Taking Method is a 6-step note-taking and study system. It helps students to better retain and understand information. While it takes some practice, it can become second nature over time, and the benefits are notable—students who use this method tend to retain and understand information much better than students who don’t!

  1. Record/Write/Take your notes: Divide your computer screen or note taking paper into two columns, with a box at the bottom of the page that takes up the width of your paper. The left column should take up about 1/3 of the width of your paper/screen. Take your notes in the wider right-hand column, jotting down important information, main ideas, definitions, etc. throughout class.
  2. Reduce: After class (or within no longer than 2 days), look over your notes and summarize them and/or create your own test questions related to the notes/material. Write these test questions (or abbreviated recall clues) in the smaller left column.
  3. Recite: Cover the right hand column by adjusting your window on your computer, or folding you paper notes in half. Read your questions/recall cues and try to answer them out loud and/or recall information from your notes in your own words. Check your answers against the notes you took in the right hand column.
  4. Reflect and Summarize: After some down time, reflect on the information in your notes. Ask yourself how the material relates to other things you know/are learning about, experiences you have had in your life, or topics that are interesting to you. Draw conclusions, look at the bigger picture, and make connections. Note any questions you have about the material so that you can seek answers from instructors or classmates. Summarize the biggest take home points in your own words in the bottom box of each page.
  5. Review: Briefly review your notes regularly in many short sessions over time (not cramming right before a test!)

Readability Extension

When you are doing online reading in your web browser, do you often find that certain websites and pages are too busy and distracting? If you do, it may be beneficial to run your page through a free web extension available for Chrome users, called Readability. Readability allows you to visually clean up your reading space, while still preserving your reading content, so that you can focus on what’s important.

Along with the visual decluttering, Readability offers other perks, such as a “save for later” feature if you create a free account, or even off-line reading capability by sending the content to your Kindle device. (And as a side note, the Kindle App is free and available for download on Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android—you don’t need a physical Kindle anymore to read Kindle content!) Plus, Readability includes a reading time estimate to help you budget and plan for your reading.

Readability is available through the Chrome store for free, and installs with a few simple clicks. Once it’s installed, all you need to do is click the extension button in your browser to instantly transform a cluttered screen into a clean and simple reading space.

Enjoy, and happy reading!