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Taking Math Notes

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Everybody knows that it's important to take good math notes, but do you really know how to take notes that really make a difference? The old rules may not work for modern students. For example, we've always heard that you should use a sharp pencil to take math notes. But these days it's much better to use a smart pen!

  1. Record your lecture as you take notes. No matter how quickly you copy notes in class, you are likely to miss something. If you record the lecture as you write, you can review the teacher's words as you work through the class problems. The best tool for recording math class is the Pulse Smartpen, by LiveScribe. This pen will enable you to tap on any note and hear the lecture that took place while you were writing it. If you can't afford a smart pen, you may be able to use a recording feature on your laptop, iPad, or tablet. If these tools aren't accessible, you can use a digital recorder.

  2. Copy every single step of every problem, and in the margins of your notes, jot down anything the teacher says that may give additional clues to the process.

  3. Rewrite each problem or process at night as you study. Re-listen to the lecture.

  4. Before you leave a class, ask for extra sample problems that are similar to the problems your teacher works through. Try to work through the extra problems on your own-but seek advice online or from a tutoring center if you get stuck.

  5. Buy a used math textbook or two with more sample problems. Use these textbooks to supplement your lectures. It is possible that one book author will describe things in a more comprehensible manner than another.

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