School-Based Intervention Idea from


Study Skills: Teach a Structured Note-Taking Process  (Pauk, 1989)

Students benefit in two ways when using a highly structured note-taking process such as the Cornell System: Not only do they recall more information from lectures because they made the effort to capture it in the form of notes, but students also have a more complete set of notes to which they can refer when studying for quizzes and tests.

The Cornell Notetaking System is organized into the following steps: (1) The student draws a vertical line on blank lined note paper. The line separates the page into a left-margin section that is 2.5 inches in width and another on the right that is 6 inches in width. (2) During reading or lectures, the student jots all notes in the 6-inch section of the page. (3) After leaving class or finishing the reading, the student reduces the notes into key words or key phrases. These condensed words or phrases are jotted into the 2.5-inch left margin of the page. (4) When reviewing course material, the student looks over his or her notes and jots down possible questions from the content that might appear on a test. The student then covers the notes (6-inch section of the page) and attempts to recite answers to the questions that he or she has created--using the key words or phrases in the left margin as prompts. (5) The student reviews notes periodically (e.g., 2-3 times per week), repeating the procedure outlined in step 4.


Pauk, W. (1989). How to study in college (4th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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