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Note-taking methods for Physics

Hi, I'm in Year 12 and planning to apply for a MPhys/Bsc degree in Physics/ or Physics with Astrophysics, and I was wondering which is the best method for note-taking. Is paper better because it's easier to use? Or should I look towards saving up for an ipad/ use my laptop during things like lectures and seminars? I have a while until uni but I was still wondering about Physics specifically. In class I like to be able to hand-draw diagrams as well as add notes.
Original post by nefeli_f
Hi, I'm in Year 12 and planning to apply for a MPhys/Bsc degree in Physics/ or Physics with Astrophysics, and I was wondering which is the best method for note-taking. Is paper better because it's easier to use? Or should I look towards saving up for an ipad/ use my laptop during things like lectures and seminars? I have a while until uni but I was still wondering about Physics specifically. In class I like to be able to hand-draw diagrams as well as add notes.

This is probably going to sound weird - but I make all my notes on paper first and then turn them into something that resembles a wiki on notion.

I find that doing it this way allows me to make quick notes, sort of like a draft - and then reviewing them is much easier later on because of how my notion is set up.
Generally handwriting notes (not necessarily with paper and pen, tablets work too - although frankly paper and pen is considerably cheaper and you can get a more powerful personal computer in the form of a laptop then too) is best as it's been linked to improved recall.

Also for physics a lot of your notes are going to be mathematical and typesetting mathematical notation (accurately) tends to be too time consuming to do "live" during a lecture.

You'll probably want a personal computing device of some sort as well but I wouldn't suggest getting one for the purpose of note taking (in any degree, but especially not numerate degrees like physics/engineering/etc).
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 3
Original post by StevenWong1
This is probably going to sound weird - but I make all my notes on paper first and then turn them into something that resembles a wiki on notion.

I find that doing it this way allows me to make quick notes, sort of like a draft - and then reviewing them is much easier later on because of how my notion is set up.

That's great, thanks! I already type up my notes on notion, so I don't find it weird at all:smile:
Original post by nefeli_f
Hi, I'm in Year 12 and planning to apply for a MPhys/Bsc degree in Physics/ or Physics with Astrophysics, and I was wondering which is the best method for note-taking. Is paper better because it's easier to use? Or should I look towards saving up for an ipad/ use my laptop during things like lectures and seminars? I have a while until uni but I was still wondering about Physics specifically. In class I like to be able to hand-draw diagrams as well as add notes.

Hiya,

I'm a current 3rd year physics with astrophysics and cosmology student at Lancaster University and during my first 2 years I made notes on paper and felt like I was wasting time copying down what was on slides instead of what lectureres were saying, as most would add onto the content already on powerpoints. This year I decided to buy a Wacom pen tablet that you can just plug into your laptop via usb and make handwritten notes / annotations on your device. It's a digital pad that you plug in that comes with a stylus and tracks motion so you can write / draw / annotate / highlight / etc. digitally. Personally, I take screen shots of slides and paste them onto Onenote, where I then make hand written or typed annotations.

I found it's a really great alternative to buying a tablet with a screen like an ipad or similar and doesn't break the bank at all! There are a few versions out there so I'd recommend doing your research to find the one for you but it's helped me so much in terms of note taking so I feel I'm not purely copying down slides and actually paying attention to what's being said.

Of course, if you find you prefer using paper then by all means go for it! Don't feel like you have to use a digital form of notetaking if it doesn't work for you but I'd recommend giving things a try to see what suits you best.

I hope this helps and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask :smile:)
-- Arya (Lancaster University Student Ambassador)

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