How do you pay attention better in math?

Here are a few tips that might help you out.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep, particularly on days when you have class. Yes, I know this one sounds stupid, and everyone says it, but it does help. If you're tired, you're going to have a hard time paying attention.
  • If you feel groggy in the morning, you can try drinking tea or coffee before you go to class. (If you already drink a lot of either of these, or other drinks with caffeine in them, back off a little. Over time, you can develop a tolerance for caffeine, which makes it less effective.)
  • Before class, read through the section of your textbook that deals with what you'll be covering that day, so you have an idea of what to expect. Don't expect to understand everything yet; that's what class is for.
  • During class, don't worry about writing down every single thing that happens on the board. Instead, spend more effort thinking about what's happening and why. Merely writing down work someone else has already done doesn't teach you very much; you already have instructions on how to do the problems in your textbook. Writing down every example verbatim just duplicates that.
  • After class, read through the section in your textbook again, and go over your notes. You should have a better understanding of the section now. If you have questions, try looking for the answers in the book or online (hey, that's what WikiAnswers is good for). You can also ask a tutor, or your teacher/professor.
  • DO THE HOMEWORK. I cannot begin to tell you how important this is. If you're not doing well on tests, this is very likely part of the problem. I know from experience just how bad things can get if you don't do the homework. Homework also helps you figure out what you do and don't understand, so you can ask questions on it later.