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Tips on taking notes?

  • Thread starter CrzyMunky
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi! I'm new to college so i have a few questions.
What specific things do you pay attention to when in a mathematics heavy course?
Have you tried using tablets or laptops to take notes?
For those of you that have used tablets do you have a recommendation for a specific tablet and programs?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Absolutely do not use laptops or tablets to take notes!! Just write with pen and paper. It's the fastest and most reliable thing.
 
  • #3
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Like the post above me said, use a pen and paper. I use Livescribe found at http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/ for my Math courses. It really helps when studying for finals because I can remember stuff at the beginning of the semester.

marly
 
  • #4
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I second Livescribe.
 
  • #5
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I'd suggest not taking notes at all and just try to understand what the lecturer is saying. There's plenty of books and the internet is full of clearly written lecture notes already.
 
  • #6
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I disagree--some teachers are very particular and touch certain topics with more emphasis than the notes you may find online. If you're concerned about understanding the number one tip I can give you is have your material prepared beforehand--i.e. read your chapter BEFORE going to class and try to get a general idea of what is being said.
 
  • #7
turbo
Gold Member
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If your profs are following the assigned texts for their lectures, I would suggest penciling notes in the margins. That way, you have your notes in context. It was a whole easier for me to prepare for exams when I used this method. Kind of a pain in the butt to lug large texts around, but I didn't need to carry notebooks with this method, and as long as they didn't change texts from semester to semester, I could get a premium by selling my texts privately because of the lecture notes.
 
  • #8
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I disagree--some teachers are very particular and touch certain topics with more emphasis than the notes you may find online. If you're concerned about understanding the number one tip I can give you is have your material prepared beforehand--i.e. read your chapter BEFORE going to class and try to get a general idea of what is being said.
All you need is to know the topics that were touched during the course. Then simply find them in one book or another.
 
  • #9
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The best strategy would be to take notes as needed (also date them each time like you would in a lab notebook) and record the lecture as well. Then later review your notes while listening to the lecture again. Don't be a notetaking maniac trying to record every stroke on the board because you miss the overall message. Also some profs tend to erase and/or overwrite what they just wrote which can't be captured well when taking notes.

I also like to add indicators in the margin like a line for something I need to check later, some idea I had or reference the prof made...

There are some tablet apps that do that although I've never used them in a lecture or meeting. There is also a pen with an embedded mic and some special paper that allows you to take notes while it remember the audio pt at which you took the note and can replay it with a tap.

See livescribe at amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001AAN4PW/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 
  • #10
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Did anyone here actually use livescribe smartpen? It looks great in general for classes such as biology or psychology but I can't imagine it being too helpful for math and physics.
 
  • #11
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literally write down every problem and solution written on the board.
 
  • #12
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Did anyone here actually use livescribe smartpen? It looks great in general for classes such as biology or psychology but I can't imagine it being too helpful for math and physics.
Yep, I used it for my last Math class this semester and I *LOVED* it. I used it for studying for the final exam as well. There were certain topics that I forgot and being able to see the lecture again was great. There's nothing like being able to see the lecture again. -- The pen records your key strokes, so it's like seeing the lecture all over again.
 
  • #13
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literally write down every problem and solution written on the board.
I second this.

marly
 
  • #14
fss
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Figure out if you need to take notes at all. I never found class examples particularly useful, so after my first year I didn't bother taking notes. Worked out just fine.
 
  • #15
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Figure out if you need to take notes at all. I never found class examples particularly useful, so after my first year I didn't bother taking notes. Worked out just fine.
I second this. I took meticulous notes until I realized I never looked at them again, read the relevant material before hand and pay attention, if it's important it'll be in the textbook.
 
  • #16
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I second this. I took meticulous notes until I realized I never looked at them again, read the relevant material before hand and pay attention, if it's important it'll be in the textbook.
this is generally terrible advice.
 
  • #17
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Well I suppose the "if it's important it'll be in the textbook" remark is a bit dubious, but I can guarantee that if it's important it will be online. As for the rest, for math classes at least, I stand by it. I can't imagine what significant benefit is gained in recopying definitions, theorems and proofs which are given to you in the book.
 
  • #18
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Well I suppose the "if it's important it'll be in the textbook" remark is a bit dubious, but I can guarantee that if it's important it will be online. As for the rest, for math classes at least, I stand by it. I can't imagine what significant benefit is gained in recopying definitions, theorems and proofs which are given to you in the book.
The significant gain is that you learn by doing. You don’t sit in a math or physics lecture and walk out an Einstein. Only after “doing” do you start to know what to do. Writing things down in lectures is part of this process.

Woodworking is another example, after watching Norm Abrams on TV you don’t become a master carpenter. Only after “doing” for many years do you become an expert.

I think telling someone not to take notes is bad advice, especially for someone who is just starting college.
 
  • #19
fss
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The significant gain is that you learn by doing. You don’t sit in a math or physics lecture and walk out an Einstein. Only after “doing” do you start to know what to do. Writing things down in lectures is part of this process.
Furiously copying down what someone is writing on a chalkboard can hardly be considered "doing" physics.

I think telling someone not to take notes is bad advice, especially for someone who is just starting college.
The point is to figure out what works for you. For some people scribbling as fast as they can helps them learn. For me it didn't. Either method can work, but it depends on the person.
 
  • #20
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Furiously copying? How quickly do your professors write? I've never furiously done anything--if there is a PP presentation--download it; if the teacher has to write on the board chances are you can/will be able to keep up without writing furiously. Math and physics are not like Psychology (where notes may be taken down furiously)--I should know I have a degree in Psychology and I'm doing one in Mechanical Engineering now.

TC do yourself a favour and take notes. As for the Livescribe--I've been using it and yes, it helps quite a bit; it allows me to hear the professor speak as I'm taking notes which really helps cement certain ideas in my mind.
 
  • #21
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Try not to copy everything. You'll generally miss a lot of what is being said. Try to read the textbook before the lecture and only try to copy what is new.
 
  • #22
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Well I suppose the "if it's important it'll be in the textbook" remark is a bit dubious, but I can guarantee that if it's important it will be online. As for the rest, for math classes at least, I stand by it. I can't imagine what significant benefit is gained in recopying definitions, theorems and proofs which are given to you in the book.
Writing can and does reinforce your learning process. This is true for definitions and theorems, but all the copying in the world of written problems on the board won't help if you don't understand it.
 
  • #23
turbo
Gold Member
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Extensive copying isn't productive. If your profs follow their assigned texts, listen to the lectures and extract the salient points that they want you to use. Underline the relevant material in the texts and make notations in the margins. That way, your notes will be in context, and best of all, will reflect the emphasis your profs want to place on those materials.

Slavish copying/transcription isn't going to get you anywhere unless you understand the concepts in the context of the way the course materials are being presented.
 
  • #24
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At my university you will always find everything you need to know to the exam in the book. The exception is the solution to the exercises. I'm a terrible at taking notes and this semester I'm going to ask the professor to give us his notes for the exercises.
 
  • #25
fss
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Furiously copying? How quickly do your professors write? I've never furiously done anything--if there is a PP presentation--download it; if the teacher has to write on the board chances are you can/will be able to keep up without writing furiously.
The larger point which you have conveniently ignored is that you cannot make the statement "taking notes helps you learn the material" with any sort of legitimacy in all cases. It's simply not a defensible position. The OP should decide for themselves whether or not rote copying will help them, or if it will prevent them from a deeper understanding of the material.

I should know I have a degree in Psychology and I'm doing one in Mechanical Engineering now.
Well, since your experience clearly will be the same for everyone else I guess we should all defer to your judgement. :-\
 

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