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Tips on taking notes?

  1. Dec 18, 2011 #1
    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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2011 #2
    Absolutely do not use laptops or tablets to take notes!! Just write with pen and paper. It's the fastest and most reliable thing.
  4. Dec 18, 2011 #3
    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.

  5. Dec 18, 2011 #4
    I second Livescribe.
  6. Dec 19, 2011 #5
    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.
  7. Dec 19, 2011 #6
    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.
  8. Dec 19, 2011 #7


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    Gold Member

    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.
  9. Dec 19, 2011 #8
    All you need is to know the topics that were touched during the course. Then simply find them in one book or another.
  10. Dec 19, 2011 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    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:

  11. Dec 19, 2011 #10
    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.
  12. Dec 19, 2011 #11
    literally write down every problem and solution written on the board.
  13. Dec 19, 2011 #12
    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.
  14. Dec 19, 2011 #13
    I second this.

  15. Dec 20, 2011 #14


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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.
  16. Dec 20, 2011 #15
    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.
  17. Dec 20, 2011 #16
    this is generally terrible advice.
  18. Dec 20, 2011 #17
    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.
  19. Dec 20, 2011 #18
    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.
  20. Dec 20, 2011 #19


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    Furiously copying down what someone is writing on a chalkboard can hardly be considered "doing" physics.

    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.
  21. Dec 20, 2011 #20
    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.
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