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Note Taking in Class

Systems and methods for better note taking that lead to faster learning.

Left Side of Page 2.5" Cues Area

Cues or Questions

As soon after class as possible, formulate questions based on the notes in the right-hand column. Writing questions helps to clarify meanings, reveal relationships, establish continuity, and strengthen memory. 


  • When is a warrant not required?
  • What is a search?
  • When does 6th Amend. right to counsel attach?

Right Side of the Page - 6" Note Area

Cornell Method

The Cornell Method uses a differently ruled sheet of paper. Rule your paper with a 2 ½ inch margin on the left leaving a 6 inch area on the right in which to make notes, and a 2 inch space on the bottom to summarize the page. During class, take down information in the six-inch area. When the instructor moves to a new point, skip a few lines. After class, complete phrases and sentences as much as possible. For every significant bit of information, write a cue in the left margin. To review, cover your notes with a card, leaving the cues exposed. Say the cue out loud, and then say as much as you can of the material underneath the card. When you have said as much as you can, move the card and see if what you said matches what is written. If you can say it, you know it.

Best Use: In a lecture and after the lecture

Use Telegraphic Sentences: Sentences with 5 or fewer words. The objective here is to distil what your professor is saying during class down to the most essential ingredients.

Typical in journalistic writing, a telegraphic sentence states the facts outright with no ‘fluff’ in the sentence providing all of the essential elements without extra words.


  • 4th Amend. concerns search & seizure.
  • Warrant not always required. (4th Amend.)
  • Search Prongs: expectation of privacy, objectively reasonable. (Cal. v. Greenwood 1988; Katz)
  • Compulsory self incrimination constitutionally protected. (5th Amend.)
  • Criminal defendants' right to counsel. (6th Amend.)

Bottom of page 2" Summary Area

The Summary area extends across the entire page. Summarize the page here after the lecture.


  • Crim Pro deals with constitutional protections for pretrial criminal processing, i.e. 4th, 5th, & 6th Amends.
  • Each Amend. has exceptions determined by case law.