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Frustrated [+Advice please]

  1. Dec 5, 2012 #1
    Hello guys, how are you?

    I'm studying Computer Science and my scores are low.

    I study, and study, and try to get helps to get rid of my thousands doubts, but my scores are bad =/

    I study everyday, do all the lists, attend all the classes and all. I've seens some of my friends who sleep in class, or misses a bunch of them, getting better grades

    I'm currently taking Calc II, Physics II, Physics Lab II and Data Structures I.

    Ah... Today I try like 10+ basic physics exercises (the chapter I just began studying) and couldnt do one.

    It annoys me my peers who seems to understand the concepts and do the exercises much more easily, and follow a clear logic, so natural..

    PS: I really enjoy my major, but my low perfomance its very depressing

    any words?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2012 #2
    Being a Neuroscience major, it is looking as though your studying habits are not working well enough to keep basic concepts in your long term memory - you should look into study intervals (1 hour on, 15 minutes off). Also, look over your notes 1 hour after your lectures are finished; this greatly improves my memory with concepts.

    For Math and Physics, check out Khan academy, they have some very helpful videos which should be a great guide for basic Physics.

    For labs, attend writing work-shops, if you school offers them, and also ask your teaching assistants questions with any material.

    In general, repetition of material is what is going to allow you to properly learn basics and concepts. And, if you have any questions about specific problems or answers, make sure you ask someone for clarification, no matter how 'stupid' you think the question really is.
  4. Dec 5, 2012 #3
    You've told us that you study for hours a day. But you never really told us how you study. If you are studying the wrong way, then studying for hours might not help you very much.

    So can you explain us what a typical day of studying looks like to you? For example: do you start by reviewing theory, for how long? How many exercises do you make? How do you select them? When do you take breaks??

    Are you sure that you're using all the resources that you can?? Students often don't know it, but there is a huge number of resources that can help them do their work. Office hours, for example, are always very helpful. Getting a tutor can help as well. Forums like these might also help you with your homework or theory. There is no reason why you should suffer through this alone, there are so many people ready to help you!!
  5. Dec 5, 2012 #4


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    For your physics, get one-on-one help from your professor in office hours, or at your school's tutoring center if they have one.

    Math and physics aren't about memorization.

    Khan Academy is lame. It's extremely superficial.
  6. Dec 5, 2012 #5
    No, they're about understanding the concepts; which is what I was trying to say, but you need repeat something in order to get it in your memory, once it's there it's easier to understand. There's many ways to go about understanding something, I was expressing my way of doing it.

    And that's just one persons opinion; Khan academy has helped me countless times.
  7. Dec 5, 2012 #6


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    (1) Your friends are probably struggling a lot more than you think.
    (2) One of those 'unofficial' things you learn in university is HOW you learn. If you're not happy with the results you're getting, try something different. Some people learn better in study groups. Other people learn better alone in a library. Try studying at a different time of the day. Try reading ahead so you come to lectures already knowing some things and have specific questions.
    (3) Are you making use of office hours or tutorial time?
    (4) Very important: look after yourself physically. Eat well. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Make sure to fit in mental down time too.
    (5) Ask questions beyond the required material. Try to think up your own example questions or problems.
    (6) Read independently.
    (7) Choose your friends and allocate your time with them wisely. It's often a lot easier to accomplish your goals if everyone around you shares similar ones.
    (8) Master time management.
    (9) Don't compare yourself to others. Focus on the aspects of yourself you can improve.
  8. Dec 5, 2012 #7
    7h - wake up
    9h - I arrive at university
    40min of studying
    10h - class
    12h-13 lunch/rest
    40min study
    14h-18h classes
    19h30 - I'm home
    and now it really depends
    sometime I make 2 hours of study
    sometimes 1hours

    in the past days I had calculus and physics classes, and of course I did poorly in both.

    Now my study scheme:

    I study everyday what the teacher taugth in class

    For example, today the teacher talked about fluids. I gave a first read in the chapter, then I went to the exercises, and failed all :/

    And I try to follow this scheme everyday...

    Too sad that study hours arent proportional to grades. If they analyze how much I dedicate myself to the studies, I would be one of the bests. But I see guys who never touched the book, get awesome scores. My book is all highlighted, my lists of exercises are all scractched because I try the exercises a lot, circles the ones I'm in doubt, and etc.

    EDIT: Choppy, I just saw your reply, and I'd like to how do you study.
  9. Dec 5, 2012 #8
    So you study for 2h20 to 3h20 each day?? That's not really a lot. If your classmates say that they work much less than that, then they're lying. Of course there will be the occasional genius who doesn't have to work, but I don't believe that they all study less than 2 hours. Even in high school, I had quite a few days where I had to study for 3 hours or 4 hours.

    But study time doesn't say much. The quantity of studying doesn't matter a lot, it is the quality of studying. If you study the wrong way, then some people might accomplish in 30 minutes what you accomplish in 3 hours!!

    I'm pretty sure that you study the wrong way. But I can't tell from your post what exactly you're doing wrong. So let me give you my way of studying a mathematics text, it has yet to fail me.

    1) When I study a new chapter, I first read the main text, the definitions and the statement of the theorems. I don't read it thoroughly, I just want an idea what it is about.
    2) I read the exercises of the chapter and I see if I understand what they ask of me. If I understand the problem statement, then I try to solve them using the theory I already know (= not the theory covered in that chapter). This helps me focus on what the chapter is about, what things I will learn to solve and why I should even care about the chapter.
    3) Now I read the chapter thoroughly. I try to understand everything and I try to verify every statement in the text. I go through the proof and I try to see that every step is valid. However, I may not yet understand the main idea of the proof, that comes later. If there is something in the text that I'm stuck on, then I think about it. If I don't find it in a reasonable time, then I ask somebody.
    4) Now I try to write up the theory in the chapter in my own words. I try to formulate the theorems and the proofs in my own words. I try not to look at the book unless I want to check the answer or unless I really don't know how to continue.
    5) Now I try to expand on the theory. I read the theorems and I try to come up with examples of the theorems and why they are useful. I wonder if the converse of the theorem holds. I wonder if the theorem still holds if I weaken some conditions (and I try to find counterexamples if not). I go over the proofs and I try to get the big picture of the proof and I try to write down the main ideas of the proof in just a couple of lines. I try to see which techniques in the proof are handy and show up quite a lot. Etc.
    6) I now make a mind map of the chapter and I make a short summary of the chapter. This is very useful when reviewing. Most of the time, just reviewing the summary can give you all the information you need!
    7) I go back to the exercises and I try to solve them. I'm not going to waste my time on stupid things, so I only do the part of the exercise that I'm not very familiar with (for example, if you have to calculate a derivative, then I'm not going to waste my time with simplifying the final answer since I know that I know how to do that). I also try to see if there were other ways of solving the exercise and I see which way is shorter/more general. Also, if I know from the beginning how to solve an exercise, then I don't waste my time with it.

    This is how I do things. As you see, studying this way really requires a lot of time and dedication if you want to do it right. But in the end it really is worth it.

    Now, I'm not saying you should study the same as me. But you should look at your own study schedule and see if it compares a bit to mine. Maybe you notice that you study too superficially or maybe you waste your time on unnecessary things??
  10. Dec 5, 2012 #9
    I study approximately 2 hours daily. Usually, I don't read the chapter but get into doing exercises. I start with the first exercises that pop up (usually the easy ones) and then go onto the scary looking ones. Some exercises test a single concept and others try to tie in the whole idea of the chapter (make these a priority).

    Now, when I study, its usually in one go with a single break of 30 or so minutes in between.

    It kind of looks like you study in all the tight spots at school. You begin to study only to probably feel rushed to finish a problem just to get to class right after.

    You should just try to study at home only where it's more calm and no need to rush. Review material instead if you wish at school.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  11. Dec 5, 2012 #10
    True, but he only gets home at 19h30. He doesn't really have much time left to seriously study. Not if he also wants to relax a bit.
    But I do agree that only having a time slot of 40 minutes to study is not very ideal. Getting interrupted while studying or solving exercises is not a good thing.
  12. Dec 5, 2012 #11

    Do you use this way of studying for physics too? Sometimes when I read a physics chapter and I try to do some of the hard problems in the book I can't do them.
  13. Dec 5, 2012 #12
    It's been since high school since I last took a physics class. But if I were to study physics, I would probably attempt to do it this way. But I don't know if it'll help me in physics as much as it helps me in math.
  14. Dec 5, 2012 #13
    Now that you mention it,

    @frank1, classes are sometimes every day or every two or so days. Is this really your schedule every day? You don't by chance have an "easy" day or a day off other than the weekends?

    When I register for courses (15 credit hours), I try to squeeze in a day with few to no lectures to separate the week days and to use it as a catch-up. Just a tip. It's often inevitable to have a messy course schedule due to lack of the important courses available at different times.

    Edit: fixing mah english
  15. Dec 8, 2012 #14
    Ben, why don't you do something akin to Walter Lewin and have your lectures video taped and posted on your website so the public will have access to them to gain knowledge?
  16. Dec 8, 2012 #15
    I am having this very same problem in complex variables...

    I have spent countless hours studying and going into the professors office, but this is certainly the first math class I have ever taken which I have been unable to conceptually understand no matter how hard I work.
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