1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Doing well in college

  1. Aug 13, 2011 #1
    I've beat this into the ground a lot, but one more go couldn't hurt. I want to know how all of you with the 3.5 -4.0 gpa's do it? How do you do well in college classes? What I'm specifically asking is: How do you study the material? How do you study for exams? How do you know what's going to be on the exam when your professor doesn't tell you anything? I'm reffering to Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering classes? I'm doing okay. I just want to know what I can be doing, or doing better.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2011 #2
    Your professors should be giving you an idea about what is going to be covered on your exams. If they don't, just ask. They should at least tell you which chapters will be covered, and if they don't, assume everything you have talked about in class will be tested on. Which brings me to my next point, go to every single class, and take detailed notes. If you have to miss class, get the notes from someone and see your professor in office hours to make sure you understand the concepts. When doing homework, work out every problem in detail, and make sure you are actually learning it instead of just trying to get the answers as fast as possible. College life can be both fun and distracting, but you need to make sure you are spending enough time on school work. Become friends with other engineering or science majors so you can do group study. The hardest part for me is having friends with less demanding majors who go off and do fun things and want me to come along. Sometimes I have to resist because studying is more important at the time, but you should also find a balance between school work and other activities that is both healthy for your grades and your social life. Also very important is organizational skills, you should have your notes, homework, and past exams organized so they can be easily accessed and reviewed at any time. I like keeping a separate binder for each class. If you want to get top grades, you should be going into most exams feeling confident. If you're not, you should spend more time studying. I've noticed that what sets students apart is mostly effort, not intelligence.
  4. Aug 17, 2011 #3
    I think that one of the most useful tactics I've found for studying for tests is to look up past tests from similar classes at other schools and take those. It is often the case that there aren't that many questions you could appropriately ask on a timed test, and so you'll sometimes run into similar questions on the actual test.

    Also, I don't think group study is appropriate for everyone. I tried studying in groups for awhile, but I found that I'd easily get tricked into thinking that I understood something when I really didn't, and then when I had to do the work myself I'd be confused again. So, I do all of my homework and studying alone. Yeah, it means I spend more time on homework that my friends who work in groups, but I feel like I learn better bashing my head against a wall for 2 hours to figure out a problem than having it explained to me in 5 minutes by someone else who has already solved it. Some people do learn better in groups though - you just have to experiment and figure out what is right for you.
  5. Aug 18, 2011 #4
    thanks guys I really appreciate the input. I've been running blind for a while now.
  6. Aug 18, 2011 #5
    I will respond to the more general question of "How do you do well in college classes?"

    This might be a bit of strange advice but I would make sure all your "outside of school" stuff is in check before the semester starts. Organization is my main goal before the semester starts. Things like clothes, folders (for school and real life stuff), computer files/folders, cooking ware, car and bike are all cleaned and in working order.

    For instance, I just reorganized my closet because it was getting messy. Now instead of fishing through a bunch of clothes looking for that one shirt I like, that seemed to disappear over the last few weeks, I know exactly where it is and it will either be worn, washed, or in it's designated spot all semester. That's one less thing to worry about.

    I make my bed everyday too. Haha, I know that sounds very parent like but when I come home to a clean, organized house (dorm for you?) then I can think about what the heck my physics teacher was talking about instead of "oh crap, I should probably pick up some clothes or do some dishes."

    There are some great tips on:

    The best advice, for me, I got from that site was timed "To-Do" lists. Write down the estimated time for each item. Doing this maximizes my time and I'm far more productive especially when I have a mini break of 5-10 minutes.

    Good luck.
  7. Aug 18, 2011 #6
    A word of caution: this is NOT always the case. I did this for my Calculus I final last year and the difference between this exam and previous ones was astounding. That said, I do agree this is generally a good thing to do, just don't put all of your eggs in one basket.

    I recommend you check out http://calnewport.com/blog/" [Broken]. StudyHacks is the blog of Cal Newport, where Cal shares his excellent advice on how to be a straight-A student. Cal did his undergrad degree at Dartmouth and received a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

    I also strongly recommend you check out his books (specifically http://calnewport.com/books/howtobecome.html"), it's a godsend to anyone who wants to get straight As and still have a life.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  8. Aug 18, 2011 #7
    I'm not sure if you're college has this, but the Academic Resource Center at my college has a little questionnaire that when you answer and calculate tells you what type of studying is best for you. For example, I believe the three groups were (I can't remember the specific titles) ones who learned from listening and taping lectures, ones who learned from books and rewriting notes, and ones who learned from activity (like running while listening to notes) or doing pushups every ten minutes or something like that. Whatever group you fell into had tips on how to study to fit your needs.
    I'm sure you could also find a similar test online :)
  9. Aug 18, 2011 #8
    I did it (once I finally got my head screwed on straight and my life straightened out) by not caring a whit about my grade and attending class because I was actually interested in the material. School should be about learning, not about the letter that gets stamped on your transcript.

    That said, if you stop caring about what letter gets stamped and start caring about the actual subject, getting an A is really, really easy.

    I disagree to some extent with advice like "make sure you go to every class and take detailed notes" or "work extra homework problems" or specific tips on how to study for tests, etc. This isn't because I don't think that advice is good, but rather because I think advice like that is missing the point. In my experience, doing well in school was not about how you studied, but rather about the motivation behind how you studied. If the motivation is right (that is, if you are motivated by learning, rather than by getting a good grade) then you will tend to do naturally what you need to do to ensure that you do well.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  10. Aug 18, 2011 #9
    If you study for 10 hours a day, after day after day, you will find that you will run out of stuff to learn for the course so you get ahead and teach yourself the next section... that next section turns into the next section until you have taught yourself the whole course in the matter of weeks... doing so allows you to grasp a better understand of the material because you actually had to teach it to yourself, when it comes to exams and tests you already know everything beyond the point of just learning something a couple of weeks ago and being examined on it, your understand of the material is much higher because you learned it a long time ago and taught yourself...

    i wouldn't recommend doing it because you can go crazy and in the end your stuck in the social class your born no matter what your grades are and what education you receive... sorta in most cases
  11. Aug 18, 2011 #10


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    just go to class.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook