Notability Saved My Life

Authored by: Julie N.

The app Notability changed my life junior year. If you have an iPad or even an iPhone, the app lets you take notes by typing or stylus, and it will simultaneously record your lectures. I’m not sure if there’s a desktop computer version of it but if you can find a way to make it work, buying the app will be the best $5 you ever spend. If you can’t do this, try to record lectures on your phone or computer some other way. It really makes a difference.

After class, sometime before or during the weekend, I would go to the library or my room and listen to recorded lectures, sometimes at 1.5 or 2x speed, and rewrite my notes by hand into a paper notebook. I kept for each class. The great thing is that the app shows you exactly what you were writing while the recorded audio is playing back into your headphones. So if you don’t understand something you wrote, you can play back what the professor was saying at that instant.

Aside from listening to lectures and rewriting notes, I made anki card decks for each class and would study them before bed each night, to really expose myself to science vocabulary words and concepts that were new to me in class/reading. It also helped me fall asleep sometimes, because flash cards on your phone are a lot less exciting than scrolling social media or watching Netflix while laying in bed!

If you have a text book, at the very least skim the assigned chapter before class. It helps you get a gist of the path the lecture will follow the following day and it helped me to have a vague outline in my head throughout class.

I had the advantage of small classes (<20) but still sometimes avoided asking questions for fear of interrupting (or frankly sounding like I had no idea what I was talking about). To resolve this, I kept a stack of post it notes on my desk to write down my questions during class. If I could catch the professor after class I would ask them a few questions I had. Or I would google them, look them up in the book, or ask classmates sometime after class.

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