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  • Writer's picturePrem Sundaram

Benefits of Using Handwriting for Math Equations at College using a Digital Pen Tablet

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

Math at the college level goes beyond the basic algebra and calculus that is typically taught in high school. Some examples of advanced topics include differential equations, integral equations, and vector calculus, as well as specific topic ones like in quantum physics (e.g. Schrodinger equation) or medicine (calculating drug metabolism). These equations often require the use of specialized software or calculators to solve them. But as part of the learning process college students studying the sciences are required to learn and understand how to solve them, and use them to further prove their theories. As a result students need ways to write equations.

index card app for maths flashcards
NoteDex: Write Equations using Ink Stylus

There are some software that use a form of writing called LaTex - it's a text formatting tool that lets you write scientific equations as text. This is a great but not the focus of this article. In this article we are going to focus on the use of the pen tablet - specifically a digital ink pen that you might use on a Microsoft Surface, Apple iPad or using a Wacom Digitizer, for instance. Just like you may be writing on a whiteboard, you can do the same on a digital pen tablet today.

Unlike high school where you are learning mostly with memorization, Algebra and Calculus excepted(!), when we get to College you need to work on hard calculations and this is where your creative thinking is needed.

This article is mainly focused on the use of handwritten maths for studying but it is equally applicable for younger audiences. With many younger students using iPads at school you can obviously use the tools described here for learning multiplication, division and more.

In this article we'll discuss what are the best apps for maths flashcards and what devices you can choose from.

The Benefits of Using Pen Tablet in Math

There are many benefits to using pencil and paper in math. One benefit is that it helps students to develop their problem-solving skills. When students have to solve a problem by hand, they have to really think about what they are doing and try different methods until they find one that works. This process can help them to understand the concepts better and learn how to apply them to new problems.

Another benefit of using pencil and paper is that it can help students to check their work for mistakes. With a calculator, it is easy to make mistakes and not realize it. But when students do their math by hand, they can catch their mistakes and correct them. This can help them avoid making the same mistakes on future tests or in real life.

So, overall, using pencil and paper in math can help students develop problem-solving skills and catch their mistakes. This can lead to better grades and a better understanding of math concepts.

Using a digital notebook allows a student to get the same experience as pen and paper, but clearly with the advantage of having an infinite pad of paper and saving all those trees - plus being able to have all their notes in their backpack!

The benefit of using a pen is also great for teachers and tutors, who may want to explain how a formula is built up and how the student should think about solving the problem, particularly useful in online teaching helping improve the teaching experience during distance learning.

How Can You Use a Digital Pen?

A digital pen can be used to write formulas by using software that is compatible with the pen. This software can be used to write out equations and other mathematical expressions for solving math problems.

Using NoteDex to Sketch and Focus on One Equation at a Time

As you work through your classes, you are faced with a lot of formulas to remember. This is where a tool like NoteDex is valuable since you can organize your notecards one at a time. Unlike other note apps where all the notes are buried in text files, the visual interface for NoteDex will allow you to see your cards and then when you open and work on a card you are working on one topic each time. You can then revise and study each card using the study mode.

This makes NoteDex a popular app for students learning advanced maths, physics, chemistry and even medicine, where they want to focus on solving the problem themselves. Using a pen allows the student to annotate a note, an image of an equation, or just experiment in their mind with their handwritten equations. Ink features like an eraser help students to work on a problem and enjoy the experience of using a digital pen to solve equations.

Using Microsoft OneNote with its Math Assistant

Microsoft OneNote also is one of the great teaching tools, but the interface is different than NoteDex. With OneNote you have long pages of notes, so it is not so easy to review and organize, but OneNote does has a Math Assistant function that allows you to solve the equation and help you visualize math problems, ideal for students who are learning and need help solving problems.

The Best Tablets with a Stylus Pen for Inking in 2023

If you are in interested in using digital ink and a pen to take your maths notes and organize your equations for study, we can recommend a few devices that are available in the market.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 with Slim Pen 2- Windows 11 based tablet/computer - a great writing device with keyboard

Apple iPad Pro with Apple Pencil - iOS based device - perhaps the king of tablets

Samsung Galaxy S8+ tablet with S-Pen - Android based device - a great tool

Wacom Tablet - A digitizer drawing tablet that connects to you computer, great value for money.

NoteDex and OneNote are available for all these devices so you can really decide based on your personal preferences. For example if you are in the Mac/iPhone world ready it will make sense to buy the iPad to integrate into the iOS ecosystem. If you are using an Android phone consider the Samsung or Windows tablets. The iPad, it must be said, is probably the best digital device due to the range of software available.

All these devices are great for you to write notes during class, as a digital whiteboard, and as a tool to do math work.


Using a digital stylus to take your maths notes, write equations, and study for final exams is a great way to improve your maths learning experience.

One of our NoteDex customers, a student in the UK learning maths said "It really is the best there is and will be invaluable for my degree". We can't argue with that, who are we to argue that NoteDex is the best math flash cards app!


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