Replied to What are some effective strategies for taking notes from mathematics or physics textbooks? (Quora.com)
I’ll turn this question around 180 degrees to suggest that instead of taking notes from your math/physics textbooks, that you’re FAR better off PUTTING notes INTO them! Those margins are meant for writing down the parts of problems and examples that the author implicitly leaves out.

One typically wouldn’t take notes from a Spanish, French, or Latin textbook would they? Like most languages, mathematics should be read and written to practice it (and maybe even spoken).

Knowing math or physics is best demonstrated by actually doing problems – and the majority of the time, this is what is going to be on the test too, so just pick up a pencil or pen and start working out the answers.

These subjects aren’t like history, philosophy, or psychology with multiple choice or essay type questions that might benefit from note-taking, so just jump right in. Give the book a short read and start plugging away at problems.

If you have problems getting started, take a look at some of the examples provided by the author (or in other books), cover up the answer, and try to recreate the solution.

Drafting off of the Quora question “Why aren’t math textbooks more straightforward?” I’d suggest reading some of my extended answer here: Why Aren’t Math Textbooks more Straightforward?

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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