Note Taking

When you first enter the classroom, preparing to take notes is essential. By taking careful notes you can:

  • Record how the instructor has explained procedures.
  • Record what examples the instructor has demonstrated.
  • Develop good organizational skills.
  • Record important class information such as homework assignmens and test dates.

Below are some tips for effective note-taking: 

  1. Listen 
    • Come to class with a positive attitude; this will help you focus, concentrate and get the most out of the lecture.
    • Sit close to the front of class as possible to improve your concentration and vision.
    • Stay focused on the content of the lecture.
    • Do not be distracted by classmates or daydreams.
    • Relate important points to concepts you already know.
    • Ask the instructor for clarification, if you don't understand.
    • Listen for words the signal important information.
    • Tips for improving your listening skills can be found at: 
    • How good are your listening habits? Check out the ten bad listening habits
  2. Write
    • Bring pencils and paper to class and take math notes in pencil, not pen.
    • Always use the same notebook to take note for your math class. Your paper should be 8.5" by 11" in size.
    • Date each notebook entry.
    • Keep your math notes separate from notes from your other courses.
    • Copy down everything that the instructor writes on the board. If the instructor takes the time to write something, it is important.
    • Take notes, even though your understanding may not be complete.
    • Develop a good note-taking system. Ideas for note-taking systems can be found here:
  3. Review
    • Review and reorganize your notes as soon as possible after class.
    • Write clearly and legibly.
    • Rewrite ideas in your own words.
    • Highlight important ideas, examples and issues with colored pens.
    • Review your class notes before the next class period.
    • Ask questions during office hours or the next class period if there are items that are unclear.
    • Review all your notes at least once per week to get a perspective on the course. 
  4. Reflect
    • Think about what you have written and connect it with other math concepts.
    • Begin to remember definitions, procedures, concepts, theorems and formulas that are in your notes.
    • Compare your lecture notes to the ideas, explanations and examples in the textbook.