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vanhopeful95

Notetaking

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I pretty much exclusively took handwritten notes in undergrad as I found it helped my recall. I am wondering if anyone handwrites notes in law school? If not, what are people’s preferred platforms for typing notes? Given the quantity of information I presume we’ll be receiving, I’m open to typing notes moving forward. I’d rather not just have a word doc for each class, as I feel like that’s difficulty for finding/organizing information later on. Thanks in advance :)

 

 

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Can't speak to what platforms are best for typing notes, as I continued to hand write my notes during 1L. I was definitely in the minority, but it worked for me. PM me if you have any specific questions :)

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Lots of people handwrite their notes. If you've had good results handwriting in the past, why mess with it until you find a problem? I think the best advice is to do what you've done before and feels natural for your learning style. 

This difference between law school class time and note taking and other programs isn't the amount of material...it's the material itself and the end goal/how you will use the material. 

I think in the first couple months of law school, what's most challenging is figuring out the point of the reading and lectures, and what you need to do with all that material to do well. Because of this, there's a tendency to assume you need EVERY WORD the prof says, because you basically have no idea what you might need any of it for. This can lead to giving into the urge to try to fully transcribe lectures, particularly when you're typing. In my opinion, this transcription habit interferes with actually processing information in class. This opinion is backed by some studies, but at the same time many, many top students type their notes and do well.

Also, if you find later you have a gap in your handwritten notes, you can always ask a classmate to fill in the gap.

Or even better, it's a good starting point for discussing with a prof in their office hours. They aren't going to be mad at you for missing something said in class, they'll just be happy you're working through it and brought the question to them. 

Edited by feraenaturae
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I liked typing for a few reasons:

1. I found it easier to make my outlines at the end of the year when everything was already typed up. Though I can see that typing up your handwritten notes might be a form of review.

2. I liked that I could control F and search in my notes. This helped when I was cold called in class or just generally wanted to ask a question/make a point in class.

3. I absolutely needed to multi-task in a lot of classes to survive the boredom/prevent getting sleepy and it's easier to browse reddit when you're typing 😛 

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I graduated years ago but even then, very few took notes by hand. Organizing your outlines for exams, sharing notes with classmates, etc, much easier with typed notes easily accessible on your laptop.

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1 hour ago, erinl2 said:

I graduated years ago but even then, very few took notes by hand. Organizing your outlines for exams, sharing notes with classmates, etc, much easier with typed notes easily accessible on your laptop.

In the courses I took notes on my laptop, I had those conveniences as well. But I still found that handwritten notes were better. They captured the course material much more succinctly and usefully. And when you summarized them again into summaries or outlines, which I did every week or two, you'd have a very crisp document that could be easily shared. I'm actually not sure if there was any relationship between grades and my note-taking method, but studying for exams was definitely far easier in the courses where I took notes by hand.

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And since I'm really old, that was before we even had Facebook or twitter as distractions. It was Digg and lawbuzz...

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I am a long-ago graduate, so take my comments with a grain of salt (fleur de sel by preference).

There have been discussions on this board about a few specific profs at some schools having laptop bans, and discussions with links to articles/papers/studies that suggest there may be some benefits to handwritten notetaking in terms of memory and recall. That doesn't fully address the argument that typed notes are easier to work with, but it's something to consider. I find even now (at e.g. a conference or seminar) that I prefer to take a few handwritten notes, not type, it helps me note only important things, not type too much (if posts on this board were handwritten, people would praise my brevity if they could even read what I wrote...). Even in a meeting with my laptop there, I will also have paper for notes.

Ultimately, do what you think is best for learning and doing well on exams and assignments. With the proviso, one should be a decent typist (work at it during the summer if necessary) for assignments and exams. However one decides to take notes it should be a choice one way or the other, not a default.

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I think previous posts have outlined the obvious advantages of note-taking digitally. Another one would be the option of writing out your notes by hand afterwards as a way to reinforce what you've learned, plus the reputed benefits of handwriting and recall you've described. I did that from time to time in undergraduate; however, most of my studying/memorization was done pacing while reciting my notes out-loud.

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37 minutes ago, Astrowelkyn said:

I think previous posts have outlined the obvious advantages of note-taking digitally. Another one would be the option of writing out your notes by hand afterwards as a way to reinforce what you've learned, plus the reputed benefits of handwriting and recall you've described. I did that from time to time in undergraduate; however, most of my studying/memorization was done pacing while reciting my notes out-loud.

I don't recall details of the articles, but it may be that the benefit is that while handwriting notes the average person pays attention more in class by doing so than while typing. If so, writing out one's notes by hand afterwards wouldn't help.

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7 minutes ago, epeeist said:

I don't recall details of the articles, but it may be that the benefit is that while handwriting notes the average person pays attention more in class by doing so than while typing. If so, writing out one's notes by hand afterwards wouldn't help.

And also, it requires a level of mental processing before you write it down on the paper. This helps with comprehension and memory retention. 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/

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I'm old enough that hand-writing notes was almost universal (there was usually one person in a class lugging around a laptop).

To the OP, if you're used to handwriting, stick with what you know.  Converting to a whole new style of learning right as you start law school doesn't seem wise.  While there is undoubtably some practical usefulness to handwritten notes (copy and pasting mostly), there is at lest some evidence that (as BLD mentions above) that the act of having to synthesize and process the material into handwritten notes can aid in retention.

But really - stick with what you know.  If it's working for you, don't change now.

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9 hours ago, harveyspecter993 said:

It's going to be a pain to transcribe those notes when you're building your summaries.

What if I told you you didn't need to transcribe your notes to build your summaries? *Insert Morpheus meme.*

To each their own, but some law students find shorter summaries (2-5 pages) more effective for exams. No transcription necessary! 

Edited by feraenaturae

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1 minute ago, feraenaturae said:

What if I told you you didn't need to transcribe your notes to build your summaries? *Insert Morpheus meme.*

To each their own, but some law students find shorter summaries (2-5 pages) more effective for exams. No transcription necessary! 

A policy summary alone has to be 10-20 pages, let alone the full summary.

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My best summaries were 5-8 pages. They were extremely unwieldy when I took typed notes, because I had transcribed everything and kept throwing useless details into them.

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13 hours ago, harveyspecter993 said:

A policy summary alone has to be 10-20 pages, let alone the full summary.

Do profs at your school set minimum summary lengths, or are you just stating a personal preference as an absolute requirement for success? 

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19 hours ago, epeeist said:

I don't recall details of the articles, but it may be that the benefit is that while handwriting notes the average person pays attention more in class by doing so than while typing. If so, writing out one's notes by hand afterwards wouldn't help.

I haven't practiced that method in the past, but I figured it would at least make you go over your notes twice in a short time-frame (same day or within a few days), which might help with long-term recall?

I do agree that hand-writing is probably the best for memory sake, but I've mostly transitioned to a laptop/tablet just for the speed and convenience and easy modifications later on.

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