How to study efficiently: The Cornell Notes Method


Hello. My name is Emma, and in today's video I am going to teach you

an amazing way to listen and take notes.

This method I am going to teach you today is really, really going

to help you, and I know this because I use this method myself, and I found it has really,

really helped me when I was in university, during meetings, during all sorts of different

situations. This method really works.

So, first, before I teach you about the method, I want you to think about yourself and I want

you to think about: When do you take notes? Okay? So, when do you listen and when do you

take notes? So, some of you might think... Maybe you're in university, maybe you're in

college, maybe you're in high school, and you have to listen to your teacher talk, and

you have to take notes to help you remember what they are saying. Maybe you've graduated

and you're working in a business, and you have meetings and... Or presentations, and

you also need to take notes. So, this method will work for whether you're working or you're

studying. Maybe you're taking the IELTS or the TOEFL, this can also help you on the TOEFL

test in terms of improving your listening and taking notes.

So, how do you take notes? Okay? I know some students, they watch their professor or their

teacher talk, and they use their computer, and they just type everything their professor

or teacher says. Is this something you do? Maybe you write your notes, and you write

every single thing your professor says down on a piece of paper, or anything somebody

says. Well, there are a couple of problems with these methods, and I'm going to explain

to you some of the problems now. So, for people who like to take notes by computer, there

are some advantages of this. You're able to type really quickly and you're able to get

a lot of what you hear down on your computer, and it's easy to save. But the problem with

this is it's a type of passive listening. So, a lot of the times you're not actually

using your brain to interpret what you're listening to, and you're not actively listening.

You're just copying word for word, you're not actually doing anything active with the

material you're listening to. So, working with a computer-and I've seen this in my university-a

lot of students also end up going on Facebook during the lesson or lecture. So, a lot of

the times they get very distracted. When they should be listening, they're actually not. So,

for me personally and I think for a lot of people, using a computer to take notes is

not the best method. Again, for some people it might work, but for a lot of people it

doesn't. A lot of the times it's actually better to take notes by hand, and the reason

is when you take notes by hand, you have to think about what you're writing because writing

takes a bit longer than typing. So you're organizing the material, therefore it's more

of an active way to listen. Okay? And they've done psychology studies on this, and they

do find that taking your notes by hand is often better than taking notes by a computer.

So, today I am going to teach you a way to take notes by hand using what is called

"The Cornell Method". This method was developed at Cornell University, and a lot of universities

actually encourage students to use this method because it is very good. So, what is the Cornell

Method? Okay, well, I'm glad you asked. So, I have here an example of how you would organize

your paper. Imagine this is your paper that you take your notes on. What you can do is

you can make a box just like this where you have a box where you write the title and the

date of the lesson, you have a square or a rectangle here, you have a rectangle here,

and you have a rectangle at the bottom. Okay? So, in total you have-one, two, three, four

-four different rectangles.

Now, what do you do? So, I already said you write the title here and the date here. In

this column, you're going to write the main idea or the keyword a professor is using.

Now, if this is confusing, that's okay because I will show you an example of a finished note.

Okay? But for now, just to explain, in this column we're going to write any big, important

words. Okay? So if you're learning about, you know, gravity, you might write the word:

"gravity" here. Okay? You can also write questions here. "What is gravity?" Or you can write

the main idea. So this is just almost like the big ideas that you're listening to.

This is where we write the smaller ideas, the details. So if you're learning about history

or, you know, something like that, you can write the dates here. Okay? Maybe you're learning

about Shakespeare, so you might write, you know: "Shakespeare" here and when he was born,

when he died. You can write details, details about what you're learning. Definitions. If

you're learning a new word, you can write the meaning here. If you're taking a science

class, you can write your formulas here. You can write examples here. Maybe if they're

explaining, you know, something about science and something about, you know, planets, you

can write an example here about Mercury. And you can also draw pictures here. A lot of

students, they don't put pictures in their notes, but it actually is a great idea to

help with understanding and to also help you remember what you're... What you're learning.

So here you write the big ideas or the keywords, here is the detail, and finally at the bottom,

after, you know, you've gone through the notes... So while you're listening to your professor

or your teacher, you're writing here and here. And then once the class is over, you think

about what you learned, and you look. You look here, you look here, and then you can

write maybe four or five things that you learned today. Just by thinking about that at the

end of each class will really, really help you to remember, you know, the material.

So this is a very active way to take notes because you're organizing things, you're using

a lot of brain power which is good, and you're going to remember a lot more than if you just

type up everything the professor says on the computer or if you just write everything the

professor says on the computer. The other great thing about this method is it's so easy

when you're studying for a test or an exam. You can find ideas very quickly. So, if you

want to go back to about gravity, you can look for:

"Okay, where is gravity? Oh, here's gravity."

And then you can read up on some of the details about gravity. So it's very,

very good for organizing your notes, which will help you in terms of your test. So now

I'm going to show you an actual example of the Cornell Method with actual notes in them.

Okay, so imagine I'm actually listening to a teacher talk about the history of English,

and I've just written my notes. Okay? So now I'm going to talk about what I wrote. So here

is the title. The lesson I listened to is called "English 101". Whenever you see "101"

that usually means it's an introduction to something. I've written the date here. This

isn't the real date. It's not 2060, but I have no idea when you're going to watch this,

so I've decided to just make up a date. So, here, again, are the key ideas or main words.

So... Or questions. I have here: "What is English?", "Dialects", and "American vs. British".

So, the beauty about this is when I'm studying for my test, I can quickly find the material.

If I need to find out: What's the difference between America vs. British, I can just scan

and go right here. Okay?

Here I have all the details. So, notice this has a lot more words than this. This is just

one or two words, whereas this is a lot more information. So, here under the question:

"What is English?" I wrote: It's official... It's the official language in 60 countries.

It's the most widely learned second language, and it's an Indo-European language. Okay?

So you'll notice I didn't write full sentences here. There's no point. You're trying to write

as quickly as you can. So instead of, you know, writing:

"It's the official language of 60 countries", I just put: "60 countries = official",

and I could write "lang" here.

This is short for "language". If you can and you keep hearing the same words again and

again in your lecture, you don't have to write them out fully. You can find a short form

to write. Any time I see this, I know: "Okay, language." Just like down here: "diff", for

me that's "difference". So I don't have to waste time writing it all out. Okay, so this

is: "What is English?"

And then I have dialects: Jamaican, Indian, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, etc. A

dialect is a type of English. There are many different types of English. And maybe the

professor talks too quickly and you have no idea: "What is a dialect? I don't understand."

That's... That's good. What you can do with that is down here you can also write questions

you have about the material. You know: "I don't know what a dialect is. Look up later."

Or something like this. So this can also help you see what you need to look into or what

you can ask your teacher or professor about. Okay.

And then over here I have: "American vs. British". So, the teacher was talking about American

vs. British English. So I wrote: "er" pronunciation, it's different between American and British

English. The vocabulary can be different. And again, I would write a bunch of examples

here. You know, maybe I might write: "lift vs. elevator is different", or you know, real

examples. This is just an example. It's not totally filled out. You would have a lot more

detail when you listen to a lecture or a lesson.

So if you're actually interested in American vs. British English

and the differences, we do have a video on that at

And what I actually highly recommend is for you to try to listen to that video,

and you know, practice this method. Write the title of the video, the date, write some of the

key points the teacher is going to talk about, and some of the details. You can do that with

any videos on our website and, you know, for practice and it will actually help you learn

the material better and remember the material more. And then you can use this again

in high school, in university, in college, in business meetings, wherever you need to take notes.

The last thing I wanted to say is: "Today I learned". Once you have listened to the

lecture, think about the material and think about: "What did I learn today?" So maybe

today I learned that there are many types of English. There's Jamaican, Indian, Australian,

there's so many different types. Maybe today I learned there's a difference between American

English and British English in terms of "er" pronunciation. I recommend writing, you know,

multiple things here. You usually learn at least four or five things in a lesson, probably

more. But what you can do is think about: What are the four most important things I

learned today? And write those four of the most important things down. This will really,

really help you to remember the material.

So, I'd like you to come visit our website at

There, we have a lot more resources on all sorts of different topics

where you can practice using this method while you watch our videos.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel where you'll find a lot of other resources,

a lot of great resources on all sorts of different topics about English.

So until next time, thank you for watching and take care.