I agree with you 100% Jer, it is all about listening and keeping a good set of notes.
I have great grades but I know for a fact that if I would take notes in class my marks would be higher and I wouldnt be a hard thing to do.
I will say though I am a bad test-taker but again I know what my problem is and I dont care enough to fix it. With some students it is becuase they over study and/or second guess themselves.
Your sound like a good teacher though. You teach the lesson give out notes and you help the students who try to help themselves and when thats all said and done you give an exam in which you allow students to use notes. I would have loved this class.