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How many hours do you spend on study?

  1. Jun 1, 2010 #1
    Although i am 20 now, i still don't know what a reasonable time on study should be.
    When i ask brillant students about this, they say only stupid people need to study and brilliant one don't have to. I think they are just kidding but it does seem that brillant students spend little time on studying but still achieve great results.
    My iq is 120 according to facebook test. I am not brillant so i think i should spend more time on study. But my friends and i are actually very laid back and spend most of our time on nonacademic stuff.
    So it turns out that my gpa is 2.57 and we have to be serious now(no option). In this summer we plan to study things that will be taught in the nest semester and we cancel the trip to China. In the past we just revised material before exam but we attended every class. But in summer when there's no classes and exam how much time should we spend on study?
    Do you think three hours per day reasonable? We've borrowed some books and found some great material like some lecture videos.
    We study math and physics in college.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 1, 2010 #2


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    Hi Knsty,

    At the university level I'm not sure it's really a case of a specific amount of time. You study as long as you need to in order to understand the material to the point where you're happy with it (or where you just can't go on any longer). People learn at different rates too, so three hours of study for one person could be the same as only two hours for someone who is more efficient.

    Don't fall prey to the "smart students don't have to study" paradigm. This might be the case in high school, but it doesn't work in university. Some people may seem like they spend a minimal amount of time studying for their classes, but it's not like they don't study at all. They read a lot of material on their own and spend time thinking about problems related to their course work outside of regular study.

    One philosophy to approch school with is to assume you're a professional student. Just like anyone else going to work, you have to get up and hit the books full time, every day.

    Oh, and treat IQ like a random number - good for performing some Monte Carlo simulations if you gather up enough of them, but otherwise rather useless.
  4. Jun 1, 2010 #3
    I am 61 yo, retired engineer, and spend five hours a day studying. I always enjoyed learning things, I didn't know. Mainly, my interest now is in Origins: Universe, Galaxies, Stars, Solar System, Earth, life, and human.

    When I was working, I would spend at least two hours a day studying during the week and five hours a day during the weekend. Then, my main interest was technologies.

    I guess you can say studying to me is more of a hobby.
  5. Jun 1, 2010 #4
    It is a question about degrees. A lot are smart enough to be able to pass high school with good grades and with spending less than an hour per week outside class studying, those gets fewer quickly the higher up you get on the academic ladder but it is never zero.

    Now, most aren't that smart so it doesn't really matter anyway, just about everyone will have to start studying at some time, it is just that for some that time comes in grad school for their thesis and others they need to work hard from the beginning.

    @OP: As for how much you should study, do as much as you can endure.
  6. Jun 1, 2010 #5
    When I was undergrad i used to study between 3 and 6 hours in the weekdays and up to 10 hours days when i didnt have lecture. I was an average IQ student and always had to sweat from the brain to get good scores. i did a degree in physics , with alot of theoretical physics (i took all the theoretical physics option courses except one).
  7. Jun 1, 2010 #6
    But I think that what really matters is not the amount of time you spend but relaly teh quality of that time. For example, if you set up the goal to finish three chapters, then do them whatever long it takes.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2010
  8. Jun 1, 2010 #7


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    The general rule of thumb for college science classes: expect to study 2 hours for every 1 hour spent in lecture.

    When I first started college this seemed hard to believe; I didn't need nearly that much time. Then in upper division physics classes, I found it wasn't nearly enough - I would easily spend 5 hours studying per 1 hour lecture. And often more.
  9. Jun 1, 2010 #8
    My study time just varies so much depending on so many factors. The only correct general rule about how much you need to study is tautological: study until you learn the material.

    I agree that the "smart kids don't need to study as much" rule is wrong for this simple reason. You should always take the classes that challenge you at the appropriate level. If you're brilliant, you shouldn't be taking introductory freshman classes at all. You should be taking classes appropriate for your skill.

    In other words, if you're not studying, you're probably wasting your time and money.

    Besides, I'll be completely honest: I've only met one person in my life whom I consider truly brilliant, and he's a professor. Every good student I've ever known--in my life--has simply been a hard worker. Yeah, natural talent factors in somewhere in some hard to understand way, but really it's about working hard to achieve what you want.

    That is almost certainly without any meaning. IQ tests in general are very questionable. IQ tests on Facebook are just totally without merit.
  10. Jun 1, 2010 #9
    There are requirements for courses last time I checked, you can't just jump directly into quantum field theory and I am pretty sure that you have limits on how many courses you can take per semester in the USA.
  11. Jun 1, 2010 #10
    a student asking "how long should i study" seems odd to me. it's like a contractor asking "how long should i spend building your house" or a cook asking "how long should i spend cooking your meal"

    the obvious answers are "until the house is finished," "until the meal is ready," and "until you understand the material." In other words, until you've finished your job.

    by the way, people often lie about how much they study to look impressive.
  12. Jun 1, 2010 #11
    In both directions I might add.
  13. Jun 1, 2010 #12
    ahh, nice find.
  14. Jun 1, 2010 #13
    Great answer from xcvxcvvc !!! If we use his point of view, then these so-called brilliant people are somehow able to finish their jobs before they even start them. They are told to build a house, and it just gets built automatically. When they are hungry, their meal just materializes in front of them with no effort.

    Anyone who thinks they were born with infinite knowledge and skill, is not brilliant, but simply arrogant. Anyone who is brilliant and doesn't study, is simply lazy. Brilliant people can learn faster and can learn more complex subjects with greater ease, but they still need to study to keep learning. Learning is something that should be done from birth till death, so people should aways study.

    The most brilliant people are the ones who enjoy learning so much that they feel they are just playing while they are studying. This is the only valid reason that a brilliant person can say that he doesn't study.
  15. Jun 1, 2010 #14
    People usually do not include class hours when they speak about the time they spend studying, you should know this...
  16. Jun 1, 2010 #15
    First of all, everyone is different and learns differently. As cliche as this may sound, it's the truth.

    For me, I find it best to study my maths for about 3 or 4 hours a day, at least 5 days a week. Now theses hours are divided up into blocks of reading material from lecture, practicing exercises and than reading and practicing what I refer to as supplementary material. This can mean anything from a wiki article, to a random website, to coming on these forums or reading through a different book (not my in-class text). By far the most effective method for me is my supplementary studies, I feel it gives me freedom to explore what I wish and helps my creativity. That said, I still don't neglect my in-class material. My approach to studying is very whimsical and is much more of a daily activity that I enjoy than a chore.

    My girlfriend on the other hand is a pre-med student and she studies about 7 hours a day at least 6 days a week. Keep in mind, she studies a variety of challenging subjects in a semester. She studies very intensely, too. I honestly don't know how she does it, but I give her all the credit in the world. She gets amazing grades for it also. Her GPA is slightly better than mine. But, her approach to school is that it's a means to an end. She wants to be a surgeon and this is just what she has to do to get there. For me, mathematics is something that I utterly love and as such, my education is a passion of mine.

    My point is that you need to find what works best for you. I'd say the 2 hours for every 1 hour of lecture is a good place to start, though.
  17. Jun 1, 2010 #16
    Well, somehow I think if you're really brilliant this won't be an issue. There are many ways around it. One is to go to a school that you know will challenge you. Another is to take such classes in high school. Etc. Etc.
  18. Jun 1, 2010 #17
    Don't worry about Klockan. He goes around every thread chuffing the same old garbage about how everyone's envious of brilliant people and that they don't have to study and on and on and on.

    I study intensely for about two hours a day-ish. Most of that is just digesting material but the flipside is that I get my homework done quite quickly. And I have a nearly perfect GPA, so it's been working pretty well for me so far :) Don't worry about studying a set amount of hours but DO worry about how 'smart' you study. Staring, slack-jawed at a textbook and doing a thousand similar practice problems is not how you study physics, despite what many students seem to think.
  19. Jun 2, 2010 #18
    my dear friend,

    one thing I really felt like saying relating to this topic is. you should not, can not, and do not. Yes say it after me if you really have to "DON'T believe in IQ test", it doesn't tell you anything! no one till now can put one's intelligence into a mere number, and non of these so called test really covered all aspects of one's intelligence.

    there are many articles written about the flaw of all these so called IQ test, some of the most obvious example are:
    1) how could IQ test artistic aspect of one's intelligence.
    2) i didn't know have you noticed, all the available IQ test are biased. i.e. all IQ test was originally written in English, especially in u.s English and IQ test for other languages derivatives from it. What if the tester interpret question wrongly due to mere language misinterpretation/ mistranslation , does it makes them "stupider"? there are many available articles written relating to these bias. If you are interested just google it up!

    anyway I have the same problem as you have too........
  20. Jun 2, 2010 #19
    In addition to the other advice here, I'd just like to add my own experience. For my most recent econometrics course, I crammed the material the night before the final. It took about 7-8 hours in total. I don't recommend it, but that's how long it took to learn all the material that would be on the exam.

    For my abstract algebra final, I sat down and studied an hour and a half. This is not because I'm brilliant or anything. Rather, I expected that final to be the kind where what I learned and practiced throughout the course would help me more than sitting down and trying to absorb the material in one sitting. One then might consider the time spent thinking about algebra during the semester as "studying," so the actual number would be much, much higher.

    This emphasizes previous advice that you should study as much as you feel you need to in order to do as well as you want to. Last semester I hardly studied algorithms at all and did very poorly on the final exam, but it was something I already anticipated and came to terms with. If I had wanted to ensure that I did better, then studying more would have been the right thing to do.

    To summarize, different classes require different amounts of study. Different goals require different amounts of study. Other rules of thumb are useful places to start, but the hope is always that you eventually find what works for you.
  21. Jun 2, 2010 #20
    What if the person can take courses such as intermediate EM and quantum while barely studying outside class as well, there is no way you will get to do those courses in high school without very special treatment that is not available to everyone.

    Also I am still disturbed by this bit:
    So you argue that if a smart person is taking the same courses as you but don't have to study while doing it he is throwing away his education while you are not? And those are classes appropriate to his skill, he just learns faster than you.

    Also I find it strange that you think that those should be as passionate about studying as you are, why really? There are a ton of slackers out there, most don't study physics since it requires work, but why should those who can do it without work be condemned for studying physics without working?
    I have never said that... I however try to fight the notion "everyone have to study hard in college" because it simply isn't true. Most do, but certainly not everyone. That notion seems to be quite strongly rooted among some posters on this forum so I throw in my cents every time that discussion comes up.

    Sure, that notion makes students study harder and such but that doesn't make it true. What is true however is that studying helps everyone, and that yes the guy who isn't studying now probably should have done these things years ago and would already be graduating by now but for some reason he chose to do other things with his time and that isn't really relevant.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  22. Jun 2, 2010 #21
    no pun intended
  23. Jun 2, 2010 #22
    If you are good enough at physics that you can master quantum mechanics in high school without even studying, it would not be hard to get that "very special treatment," if not in high school then in college where you could surely convince the physics department to let you take classes appropriate for you. My college at least is thrilled to help students reach their potential, even if it means skipping prerequisites.

    It's not ordinary, not at all, especially in physics, but it happens, and if you plan everything out it can often be worked out. Maybe my school is just not ordinary?

    If you literally don't have to study at all, then you're probably not learning anything. Since the whole point of taking the class is to learn new material, the conclusion is inescapable. But I suppose that you could come to a different conclusion if you think the purpose of taking the class is something other than learning new material. (Maybe you're at college because you're forced to be, or because you just want some particular job but couldn't care less about learning anything, etc.)

    That said, you're right in that there's probably going to be a very small group of unfortunate students who are sort of stuck in the middle: advanced enough to learn standard material at the standard pace with little trouble, maybe even no studying, but not advanced enough to skip the classes entirely. In this case, I really think those students are just at the wrong school. There are plenty of schools that are more or less "designed" for students just like that.

    I'll even share a personal anecdote: when I started college, I was one of those students. I switched schools, and the issue is gone.

    I didn't condemn anybody. Please be careful about making what I said more than it was.

    And for absolute clarity everything I wrote was under the assumption that the person is taking the classes for the purpose of learning new material. Under this assumption I made no ethical judgments, only observations as to how effectively the person was achieving this goal.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  24. Jun 2, 2010 #23
    I take notes using mechanical pencil and try to absorb as much as possible from lectures. Every day before bed I would spend around 1 hour+/- reviewing what I learned that day. I also try to review things mentally whenever I'm idling, e.g., whenever I'm in the shower, on the bus, waiting to fall asleep, etc.

    If there are things you need to remember, try reviewing them in your head. Can you restate theorems and algorithms you've learned mentally? Are you comfortable with manipulating important information in your head? If you can get a good practice of reviewing things mentally, you can get away with "studying" less while still getting As in your courses. Remember, the unconscious mind never stops solving problems, and putting a conscious effort into mentally organizing information relevant to your courses will only make your life easier.
  25. Jun 2, 2010 #24
    I put 1-4 hours per day of study time during the week and no more than 2 hours during the weekend. Depends on the difficulty of what I'm trying to learn. I also think about whatever it is I'm trying to learn whenever I'm in a low-productivity activity (in the train, going to class, just before going to sleep, taking care of business in the restroom, etc). Another thing that I believe helps me is trying to teach what I don't understand to another person; it seems in the process I'm able to come up with partial or full understanding of the topic.

    I think a quiet, isolated place works better for me; somewhere where there are no distractions. Otherwise, I don't waste my time trying to study.
  26. Jun 2, 2010 #25
    Really, I agree with your points.

    But for me my parents never cared much about what I did in school, or much else about me for that matter. So I took the apathetic stance of just going to school, not more and not less. I liked school since it wasn't home but I never did any homework. After high school I did some military duty and after that I did nothing at all for several years, was diagnosed with depression.
    But then I was feeling a bit better and wanted to do something so I started to study, at first I was afraid that I couldn't cope due to my atrocious study habits and that I had heard things similar to what many says in this thread. But it turns out that I had no problems at all even without studying, so I figured that I should go and ask for extra courses and such. So I scheduled roughly twice the normal credits for the second year, most of the extra credits being courses I don't got the prerequisites for and I picked up a few courses to TA as well. What happened was not that I started to study more but that my grades dropped a bit from perfect but I didn't study more, I tried but I just utterly lack the motivation to force me to read things I don't feel like reading and I never do exercises.

    Really if I had to study even a few hours per week there is no way I would have coped with studying. Today I am one year from a master, I study roughly half an hour per day if you sum it all up and average it over the weeks, so I am a lot better than I was before but then my courses are a lot harder today with less classes. The thing is that I get angry since people are saying that I don't exist. Sure if I was serious things would have been way different but I am not, my brother is a middle school drop out and I would probably had gone the same route if I had to study. And I can't get into a better university without going outside my country and that would be a huge hassle, especially since I don't got any financial backing from my parents at all.(I don't need it here since the state basically pays for it)
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