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Crazy deadlines/Long study periods!

  1. Oct 3, 2011 #1
    Has there been any period in your life where you've had to study long hours for a few days? Say, 5-6 hours of independent study for a few weeks?

    It's not that I cannot study or I'm too slow. I pick up things with relative ease but it's hard for me to stay concentrated for too long. I can do Maths for about an hour in one go and I'd think that's reasonable. With Physics, I can study what, 15 minutes? And I start thinking of something else, playing with a pencil, staring at the ceiling...

    I like Physics and solving problems but I get impatient with the learning part. Time really isn't on my side - my finals for Physics are between the 11th and 24th of November, with the exams carrying the most weight being on the 11th and on the 16th. I have a firm grasp of a third of the material; another third I have to review; a final third I have to learn from scratch. It doesn't look daunting at all - the only scary thing is thought of not being able to finish on time. It's sort of a race right now. I know I can get to the end, I know I can do it darn well but what if I'm not fast enough? What if somebody makes me trip? I'll get up and I'll keep going but I need at least a B.

    I don't know what to do about this. If I had no deadline, I'd sit in with my Halliday/Resnick book and study the physics properly but I'm left with simplified physics that annoys me. "If you do this, this other thing happens and that's it. It happens." It's a little hard for me to grasp stuff like that and that's where I start getting bored and then frustrated and I move on to doing something else. My mind would be more at ease if I could "see the math" behind the physics. I think I'm just gonna wrap up that bit of math I had get done (review vectors, complex numbers and some stats) and then try to use the Resnick book and see if I have any luck with this.

    Guys, or girls, yeah, you too (!): any stories to share? Help a bro' out? :D
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2011 #2
    Pretty much everyday except for Tuesday and Thursday, and I do a bit on monday, but I only do it because I want to. Nothing is forcing me.

    That isn't reasonable at all. Do you have ADHD or anything? Sounds like you have a hard time focusing.

    Most of the time though it can be a behavioral habit. I tend to drift off too here and there but I'm getting better at it.
  4. Oct 4, 2011 #3
    When I am able to study for long or not long periods of time - I can definately tell if I have eaten/exercised/slept well that day. My mental preparedness has a lot to do with my physical preparedness I've found (and is a prime motivation for me getting off my rear and exercising and eating right!).
  5. Oct 4, 2011 #4
    Well, I don't think I've observed any trends of that sort so far, except when I've had a good night's sleep,

    As for ADHD or ADD or bipolar disorder or some other mental illness - I have no clue. It's something I fear I have but we'll see. I doubt it though - maybe it's just a lack of focus. When I can get going, I can go on for very long hours but that's very rare. The most I can get done is with Math and I keep working out exercise after exercise. It comes more naturally. Maybe that's the problem with me and Physics - maybe I'm too impatient? When I'm learning Math, I can get it quickly and I sort of have an intuition for it. Physics requires more of my concentration and I find it more challenging. This leads to have second thoughts about my choice of subject. Then again, I can't expect everything to just fall on my lap when I want it to...
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  6. Oct 4, 2011 #5
    As you know when the exams are, work out what you need to cover and write out a timetable detailing exactly what you will cover every day. If you don't cover it, then make sure you do the next day even if it means putting in a few more hours (and 4 - 6 hours of study for a few days is not long, I've had jobs where I put in 10 - 12 hours per day for weeks on end, wait for the workforce if you think study is long hours).

    Excellent advice. Even if you do nothing else at least go for a 20 minute walk every day. Make sure your diet is good. Drink water rather than drinks loaded with sugar. Don't eat junk. Early nights and early starts - can't stress this one enough! And no TV, every hour spent in front of the TV / computer is an hour you could have been studying.
  7. Oct 4, 2011 #6
    Aww no Star Trek? :cry:

    Anyhow... You should be able to do at least an hour or two of physics (any studying really) before needing a break. 15 minutes is too little.

    Try experiment ways that you can increase that time. Try drinking more water. Having 5 minute "brain-off" breaks (when you need to of course). Exercise a little more. I dunno lol be creative.

    Good luck!
  8. Oct 4, 2011 #7
    ADD and ADHD are highly controversial "medical" issues. Whether it is or not, I am not one to argue because I am no expert. I once had a really close friend whom I hanged out with a lot.. I was surprised when a couple years later he mentioned that he was diagnosed with ADHD. My reaction was what? Disclaimer: I am not claiming whether ADD & ADHD is a fraud to make money or a misdiagnosed social issue.

    Bipolar disorder? I don't believe its symptoms intersects with being able to work on something for a period of time. Anyways in your case its just a mix of perseverance and mind-set. I used to never be able to study more than half an hour. Needless to say, now I can study 5+ hours easily!

    A lot of it is about discipline. Many times when I am having trouble with something or I feel frustrated my first reaction is to leave the problem. But I am able to suppress that and work at the problem at hand.

    Finally, you shouldn't have second-thoughts on your choice of subject. What is intelligence? Surely it doesn't come out of thin air. You built it over time.. and you often build it by mistakes. A mistake simply tells you what not to do! Its a process of learning. Don't be discouraged, all it means is you need to need more practice. Intelligent people don't happen overnight. Although most people out there would like to believe that others are simply born with it.. its an excuse for their failures and lack of hard work.

    I'm the type to sleep late and wake up late. Are you sure it actually makes a difference what time you wake and sleep? I've always been under the assumption that the magnitude of hours slept is the only factor that mattered.
  9. Oct 4, 2011 #8
    Between 9 and 5 Monday through Friday studying is like a job; on the weekend I tone it down to maybe 3-4 hours a day including multiple math examples done while playing CS or COD (between deaths).

    The best way to study heavy materials (i.e. math, physics, engineering courses) is with 2/3 or 3/4 study times--basically, try to do 40 to 45 minutes and give yourself 15-20 minutes to decompress and restart. At this point I only give myself 5 minutes to decompress and snack in between "sessions" but I've been doing this for over a year and a half so my "study tolerance" has been built up.
  10. Oct 4, 2011 #9
    How do you do problems between deaths in COD? 0__O

    I do this, but I don't put much thought into it. I just read my mind, if I feel I need a break I'll go for it. But if I feel alert then I'll keep going.
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