«SQ3R and Cornell Note-Taking» - Great Essay Sample

«SQ3R and Cornell Note-Taking»


During education, the students often have to write the lectures from dictation. The lecturer may speak fast, and the topics may cover issues difficult for understanding. The students’ notes are often done in a hurry and, therefore, bring less educational benefit that they should. Besides, the problem of lacking for understanding of the read text may be known absolutely by every student. Very often, high school students face it since they are forced to read in large quantities. However, the time spent on reading books without full understanding of the material may bring no result. However, scientists have developed the systems that significantly improve the students’ abilities to understand, learn, and remember the material. This paper will examine two strong educational techniques, SQ3R and Cornell note-taking, that improve the encoding processes for students.


SQRRR (or simply SQ3R) is a method of understanding texts. It is an acronym of its five steps: survey, question, read, recite, and review. The system was developed by Francis Pleasant Robinson in his book Effective Study (Robinson, 1978), which is based on the principles documented in 1930s (Gunning, 2002, p. 12). The method is designed for college students; however, it can also be used in school as well (Gunning, 2002, p. 12).

To date, SQ3R has been used for many years, and it gave the opportunity to scientists to assess its effectiveness. The technique of fast memorization with a few simple steps allows remembering the maximum of read information. All that is needed here is to set the brain to perform multiple commands since it works regardless of human efforts. The human brain is a biological computer; hence, it works on the same principles as a machine (Gunning, 2002, p. 12).

Advantages of SQ3R within Encoding Processes for Students

SQ3R is a technique aimed at high-quality learning of textual information. It helps to get the most benefit from reading, structure and understanding the information, remembering and finding information relevant to the student’s needs. The advantage of such technique is the fact that person progresses faster in his or her mentality by memorizing texts. SQ3R technique is very effective in terms of studying large text volumes. The main requirement is to do all the steps in sequence and do not confuse their order.

SQ3R is a relatively simple technique. It is applicable when the student is reading not for pleasure but for education; for example, in teaching and learning, studying mandatory literature, or in understand some important professional topics. Another interesting application of this technology is studying foreign languages because the higher is the memorability of the text, the more language learning progresses (Gunning, 2002, p. 14).

Using this technique, the student promotes his/her own undeniable progress of memory ability and volume. This is another advantage of such technology. It allows remembering information that is really needed without cluttering mind with unnecessary data and facts. Newly learned information is not piecemeal but structured. Thus, SQ3R is a method that helps to achieve the greatest benefit from reading texts.

Another advantage of SQ3R is contributing of this technique to an increase of the long-term memory likelihood. Long-term memory is used to store information for a long time. Everything that is held for more than a few minutes is put into the non-volatile memory system. The most important role in the process of putting the information into long-term memory is the mandatory step of SQ3R. This step is a review, which the most common method of developing long-term memory. If reviewing information begins not later than one hour after storaging, data go to the long-term memory. The studies show that after an hour in human memory, there is not less than 50% of the stored information; and the next day, this figure falls to 30-35%. This is the law of memorization. The process of review picks up a weak signal (information) and refreshes and reinforces it in memory. As practice shows, people who perceive only the material for recording, forget it much faster in comparison with those who review the same material. Thus, SQ3R increases the long-term memory likelihood (Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1968).

Cornell Note-Taking Technique

There is a method that allows the student to make more efficient paper notes. This method is called Cornell note-taking method. It was developed in 1950 by Dr. Walter Pauk from Cornell University, the author of the book How to study in college (Herr, 2008, p. 23). Cornell method is very simple and is based on the fact that one needs to divide the notebook into three parts: the notes, the main idea, and the result. On the left side of the sheet, the main points are recorded; on the right side, the notes explaining each thesis are written (with small supplementary questions and information); and at the bottom of the page, after reading the basic thought and additions, conclusion should be done and recorded as well (Herr, 2008, p. 25).

This system helps to efficiently organize work, which includes plenty of summaries. Its gist is a little extra work added to the recorded lecture materials.

The main rule of Cornell note-taking method is “less is better”. It allows extending the understanding of the topic by writing down the questions that arise in the students' minds during the lecture and mark the moment which should be examined, learned, or understood later.

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Figuring out the summary at the bottom of the sheet is the most helpful and efficient stage of Cornell note-taking method since it defines the main idea of the lecture by recording one's own words. If he/she is able to write a resume, it means that he/she has fully learned the material. Cornell note-taking method divides full volume of material into logical parts and, therefore, makes it easier for the brain to establish links within it.

Advantages of Cornell Note-Taking Method in Encoding Processes for Students

It is known that the notes made by hand are much better than the notes made on a computer. When one writes on paper, s/he is more focused and attentive. However, despite this fact, the notes on the paper often turn into a chaotic set of information difficult for remembering and understanding. Thus, after a couple of weeks, it is impossible to find the necessary information and restore it in memory.  Cornell method may be very useful since it brings order to the chaotic students’ notes and helps in understanding the information.

According to notes taken by the method of Cornell, it is easy to prepare for the exams. The most important thing is to understand the material. The method gives an opportunity to learn it during the lectures processing. When the stage is done and the information is learned in a logical way, it is enough to read only your short entry to refresh the knowledge in memory. Cornell method helps the students to organize new information and their own thoughts, and pull them out of the chaos of disordered records. Therefore, clear structure of the notes allows the students to understand and remember material in the most effective way. In addition to this, reviewing the notes over a certain period of time instead of cramming before the exam will significantly improve memorization and deepen the understanding of material.

This method is especially helpful since it allows dividing big task into smaller ones, sum up each part, and reconnect the entire picture. Sometimes, in order to find a solution, it is necessary to understand the details. Sometimes, is is the opposite – all the parts of the lecture should be connected in order to look at it globally. Cornell note-taking method ensures these both opportunities due to strict logically verified structure of information (Wong, 2014, p. 288).

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Applying this method constantly will also help to contain summaries of the procedure and make reviewing the material much easier. Focusing on taking notes or just keywords and moments allows to keep up with the lecture or reading. Analysis of the material within one day after the lecture or reading required by Cornell method significantly improves the memorization.  Summarizing the main ideas in the lower section of the page helps to clarify all recorded information. Adding the main essence in one's own words is a good way to test the extent of understanding the material.

Conditions Needed to Be Met when Using the Techniques

It should be said that neither method can give a perfect result. The uniqueness of each person requires creativity. For example, SQ3R technique is designed primarily for the people with visual perception prevailing. Such people are the ones open to new information only visually. For people receptive to hearing new material, the method may seem less convenient and efficient. Thus, if the person has not developed visual perception, it is possible to slightly adjust it without changing basic techniques.

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Cornell note-taking method is very popular in the US. Some schools and educational establishments even try to make it mandatory. The system is best suited for items that are based on well-defined themes and presented in a consistent or another logical order. The method encourages students to re-read their notes taken during the lecture and add to them supplementary questions and clarifications; then recycle the information. However, it should be remembered that if a student does not return to his or her records, there will be no benefit from such form of processing the material.

Training is mandatory for both techniques in order to achieve high results. It gives an opportunity to raise habits that contribute to the most effective use of good practice, enhance professional skills, and develop resistance of skills and speed of reaction.


Cornell method is a very effective method of note-taking. SQ3R helps to fully understand read text. Many teachers from high schools and colleges recommend using these methods because of their convenience in the generalization of the topic. If everything is done correctly, it will help the student to succeed in education. Using the Cornell method will help organize the notes, improve the study skills, and promote an academic achievement. Moreover, both these methods mastered during education will be useful in the future during meetings and conferences. Therefore, with the help of effective note-taking using the Cornell system and SQ3R, the students will be able to study successfully and with minimum stress.



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