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How do I become a better student?

  1. Apr 8, 2015 #1
    Hi Everyone,

    I need some advice; I want to become a better student and I have no idea how to do it.

    One of the things that I need to work on is figuring out a different way to approach learning because what I'm doing is NOT working. I'll explain this in a second.

    Another area that I need to improve in is balancing class work. How do people take 3+ difficult classes at once and still get A's?

    I'm really frustrated right now. I just spent the last 3 weeks studying for my physics exam and I got an F. Here is what I did to study:
    I read the chapter, after I would go through and write the key concepts of the page on a sticky note. Then I would work the example problems in the chapter. If while working them out, make a mistake, I would write to the side what I did wrong and go through it again the right way. After all of this, I would work on problems from the end of the chapter.

    But obviously this isn't working for me. I'm a horrible test taker, but I don't want to use that as an excuse.

    As for the balancing act, I always tend to do more work in one class while putting my others are on the back burner. Then when something comes up in another class I work on that. This isn't good either.

    There is still time for me to improve, (I'm just starting my degree program) I just need guidance on how to get to where I want to be.

    I apologize if this is a little wonky... I'm posting this on my phone.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2015 #2

    Stephen Tashi

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    Science Advisor

    To get good advice, I suggest you give some problems from you physics exam and explain what mistakes you made.
  4. Apr 8, 2015 #3
    I second that. Did you think you got the problems on your test correct, or did you immediately know you wouldn't be able to answer them correctly?
  5. Apr 8, 2015 #4
    I thought that I had answered the questions correctly, but it wasn't until after I turned it in and was going over the problems in my head that I knew I messed up. There were a few multiple choice questions that confused me (and generally the multiple choice questions are about concepts).

    This is what has been happening with me though, I'll work really hard and study, do the homework, etc. but when test time comes I always forget something. It's not until after the test when I am calm, that I get all the answers right.

    I don't know. How do you guys study? What is a good amount of time for someone to spend on a subject? Do you study the subject a little everyday?

    It isn't just about the test. I know that I could post the questions on here and we can comb through them, but I already did that by myself and with my professor. But I think that it is something more fundamental than that. I think that it has to do with my study habits. Maybe I'm not using my time wisely enough, or maybe I'm not spending ENOUGH time on this.

    Sure I'm frustrated right now, but for the sake of my future education I'm willing to take a bad test for the team if it means that I can become a better student from it.

    I need to figure out what isn't clicking; that is why I am hoping that people are willing to share their study habits with me. Or maybe help me figure out other ways to learn the material (other than what I'm doing), or point out a flaw in my current study plan.
  6. Apr 9, 2015 #5
    This book from Cal Newport is a popular resource:


    This is the author's blog which basically has most of the contents of the book in it:



    I'm a horrible test taker too, but what really helped me was realizing that practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Practice how you play essentially, what helped me improve was practicing taking tests under test conditions (ie with the time constraint, with or without formula sheets as the teacher administers the test, etc). Leading up to that I would do lots of problems, but I would use some sort of solution manual or solution guide to check my answers quickly and understanding the reasons why the solution writer took the steps that they did and how it applied to the material. Lots of people here suggest posting homework problems here, you can do that but I feel that's a bit of a waste of time when you could use a guide to check your answers while you're doing your problems in real time. I always felt reading the entire chapter was a bit of a waste of time too, I much preferred the short and sweet version of the material given by class notes, and the Schaum's outlines series of books gives that and large sections of solved problems to use for practice, they really helped me get better at problem solving, the one they wrote for university physics 1 and 2 is pretty good, I'm using it to study for the pgre myself:


    Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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