How to Study the Bible Using the Cornell Note Taking Method

I am always on the lookout for practical and meaningful ways to study God’s word and help me understand Scripture.  Recently, my middle school aged son came home with a school project which required him to use the Cornell Note Taking Method. As I worked with him on his assignment, I realized this could easily be adapted for studying the scriptures. I think you’re going to love it this brand new way to study the Bible!

This simple study method helps you process what you read and dissect passages of Scripture.  It also encourages you to search for key pieces of information and summarize what you read.  This effective format will be perfect for Bible study beginners and pros, too!


Study the Bible using the Cornell Note Taking Method

Are you looking for a new way to study the Bible? This format is perfect for beginners and pros. Here's how to study the Bible using the Cornell note taking method.

Step 1: Gather Bible study supplies

Gather your Bible study tools, including a Bible, pen and paper.  Draw the following diagram on your own paper before reading the chosen passage of Scripture.  (When you’re not sure where to start reading, choose a small chapter of one of the Gospels. I love studying the life of Jesus! )

Step 2: Decide on the passage or topic

The Cornell note taking method is a practical way to read through a complete book of the Bible and connect deeper to the events of your selected book. On the top section of your form, write the passage that you will be reading.  As you can see from my paper below, I’ll be studying 1 Peter Chapter 1.

If you enjoy topical Bible studies, this format will also work well for that type of reading, too.  When doing a topical study, write the topic you plan to research on the top line of the form.

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Step 3: Read and take notes

As you read through the chapter or verses, take notes on what you read in the large right section of your grid. Record details so you are able to look back at your notes and recall what the chapter or passage is about.  (Plus, writing down information is a great way to retain what you read!)

Step 4: Write key pieces of information

The next piece in learning how to study the Bible using the Cornell note taking method is to use the tall box on the left to write the most important pieces of information from the passage.  In this column, record names, places, repeated phrases and the most important details of the passage.  Consider this section a place for the highlights of the passage you read and the “take away” of the Scripture.  It’s designed to help you quickly review the most important pieces of information at first glance.

Step 5: Summarize the passage

Finally, in the bottom box, summarize the passage.  Once finished, you should be able to reread this box to review the highlights and main events of this Scripture. Also in this section, include what God taught you and how to apply it to your life.  As you review your notes, pray through how you can daily surrender your heart and life to God’s promises.

While the Cornell note taking method wasn’t originally designed for Bible study, it’s a practical way to dissect a passage of Scripture and gain further clarity. Knowing how to study the Bible using the Cornell note taking method will help you process what you read and then be able to apply it to your life. Happy studying!

Looking for more ways to study God’s word? Check out Bible Study Methods: 7 Ways in 7 Days here!

Bible Study Methods: Printables, templates, video instruction for learning how to get more from God's word.


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  1. I love your posts. I just came back our women’s retreat and it was awesome. The lady who taught is such a great example of someone who knows how to study the bible and teaches it with such authority. She gave a great historical and cultural background to Hosea 6:1-3, that we would otherwise be lost without it.

    I have heard this lady speak in the past and always blessed by her teaching. I don’t know if you are familiar with Living by the Book, but she highly recommended for learning to study the Bible. I will be starting this in the summer, Lord willing. Blessings.

  2. Love this! I just recently learned of the Cornell Method of note taking and for a super organized, spread-sheet lover like myself, I feel in love with it. This is an excellent way of dissecting God’s Word.

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