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Frustrated - Advice

  1. Dec 11, 2011 #1

    I am taking Calc I and prescribed text is Stewart. I did OK in individual tests at the end of each chapter but my problem is when I am taking Chapter 5 test I don't remember anything from Chap. 1,2,3 or 4 and so on and so forth. I mean I can remember simple concepts but not the entire chapter. Is this normal?

    I definitely did good on individual tests of chap.1,2,3 and 4. It is just that I am not able to remember any of the previous material or subject.

    Is this normal?

    What can I do? Any suggestions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2011 #2
    That means you have a superficial understanding. Go back and learn things more intimately. I can easily recall anything from the chapter, and this is because I made sure I understood everything at a non-superficial level. I hope you weren't trying to simply memorize things.
  4. Dec 12, 2011 #3
    Obviously you need to review those sections. Normally, the chapters build upon one another, and therefore it is essential to be able to recollect information from chapter 1, when enduring chapter 5.
  5. Dec 12, 2011 #4
    This is normal if you have bad study techniques such as: not solving enough practice problems, memorizing facts and formulas instead of really trying to understand them, and studying for tests by cramming the night before.

    Using good study techniques will help you retain information from earlier chapters. Try reviewing previous chapters by studying a little bit of old material every night. Do practice problems. Practice deriving formulas instead of memorizing them. Good luck!
  6. Dec 12, 2011 #5


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    Just because you do well on a test doesn't mean that you'll know the material forever. Your brain needs reinforcement and if you don't do this, you'll forget material over time.

    In addition to your current studies, you could try adding in some review exercises. On a weekly basis select a few problems from chapters that you've already covered and try to do them in addition to the stuff you're focusing on that week. Once you've completed the course, don't be afraid to return to a few problems on an occasional basis either. Try dedicating say 10% of your study time to review of stuff you've already covered and been tested on and see what happens.
  7. Dec 12, 2011 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    Some other things to consider:

    test fear creates stress and stress reduces your ability to remember things

    Do you know how the teacher constructs the test? Does he/she chose problems from
    the homework, from the book like the even or odd ones or from somewhere else? Many times teachers give clues while they are teaching about some problem that may wind up on the test.

    I had one teacher abruptly change topic as he mentioned an alternative way of solving the problem at hand and the alternative appeared on the test. Another great math teacher gave us some sagely advice on surface integrals saysing sometimes its easier to integrate over y before x and you guessed it a problem that was impossible to integrate over x fell apart when integrating over y.

    When you study do it over several nights, the best being every night and every time you do your homework, everytime you're in class. Live the course. Imagine you have to teach the course and you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of the class with a memory lapse. Sometimes teaching it to a classmate can help you get dates but thats another matter.

    Study in reverse, latest to earliest section of the chapter then do the same in the previous chapter. Review your homework/test and quiz mistakes because when you're under stress you'll make the same mistakes, knowing what they are can save time in finding them.

    Find ways to check your answer. If the check doesn't agree review the solution but don't change anything until you know where the error is. My brother always made mistakes in his checks, his answer was often correct but he'd change it out of fear and lost the points all for want of a check.

    Sleep well, eat well, exercise well so you dont fall asleep in class. Dump the video games too. Other things do in moderation.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  8. Dec 12, 2011 #7
    Thanks all for your wonderful tips.

    I am in my late 30s and taking this class. I am highly motivated but unable to spend time with my full-time job and calculus. Also, I need to work on memory. Any tips you can offer?

    I always get stressed out or get anxious while reading and I am not sure why? I cannot concentrate very well. I haven't approached a doctor but is that something of concern?

    I already have bachelors degree but taking this class to get another degree.
  9. Dec 12, 2011 #8
    I'm not sure what you mean, are you saying you forget how to do the problems COMPLETELY?

    I.E. Chapter three is optimization, and chapter four is integration, and while reviewing for the final you completely forgot how to do optimization? Or are you saying you forget how to do the harder problems of the chapter 3?

    If it's the first problem, follow the advice of the above.
    If it's the second problem, don't worry. I'm currently going back into my QM book, and doing some of the harder problems, and some of them are really kicking my butt, to say the least.

    What you want to make sure is that you remember the CONCEPTS of every chapter, those are what will stick with you. Formulas come and go, but concepts are here to stay :D!

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  10. Dec 12, 2011 #9
    I don't know I find it difficult to recollect the material from previous chapters. When I read the material I understand it but if I come back to the material after few days, it is as if I never read that material. My memory is very poor and I am frustrated.
  11. Dec 12, 2011 #10


    Staff: Mentor

    I know the feeling when I leave work on Friday and come back on Monday sometimes I cant remember what i did unless I write down notes in my journal or leave myself a todo list.

    Same with math, things I learned a long time ago come back easily but other things I learn now don't stick and I too don't have the time to really reinforce it enough and not sure it will even work. I do know that work or family stress can aggravate it and it doesn't help as you get older.

    I have no answer other than spend more time on it and it will stick or you'll have to find a new job.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
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