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Studying How much time should I spend studying?

  1. Apr 23, 2011 #1
    Ever since getting to University (2nd year Mechatronic Engineering now), i find my grades.. or performance in exams/assessments to have fallen since high school.

    Upon closer inspection, I'm starting to think I just don't put enough time into studying. The course I do features about 23 hours worth of lectures/tutorials/labs during a working week, and roughly 6 hours of assigned 'homework' a week.

    I find myself doing the bare minimum (or less if i can finish earlier) of this, and not actually committing any time to simply sit down and 'take a subject in' with no goal (eg meeting a due date.)

    So I'm wondering for a something like Engineering how much time should i be devoting weekly to independent study?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2011 #2
    How much have your grades fallen? Anyone who expects high school grades in college is bound for disappointment.
  4. Apr 23, 2011 #3
    Look bro, school is a 40 hour per week job at least. You need to start putting in the time.

    Best of luck.
  5. Apr 23, 2011 #4
    Everyone is different, but I think a good general rule is a minimum of one hour at home for each hour in class/lab.

    However, do as much work as you need to do as well as you want. If you are only doing the 'minimum,' are you getting your money's worth out of the course? Education is a privilege - don't waste it.
  6. Apr 23, 2011 #5


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    The general rule I have always seen is 3 hours per lecture hour. So if you're taking 15 units, that corresponds to about 45 hours outside of class. Of course, realistically the load every week is not constant and there are easy GE courses if you're in the US/Canada which don't require much effort, etc.

    I do strongly agree with the second statement here. You're paying a lot of money probably and devoting many years of your life to this venture in the hopes that it'll put you into a job you love in the field. Why try to do the bare minimum?
  7. Apr 23, 2011 #6
    I'll agree with both points here. The one hour per class rule is way too little. I can't imagine fully learning a subject with only investing that few hours. Although, I would have a lot more spare time if I did that.:tongue:
  8. Apr 23, 2011 #7
    Well, 3 hours per lecture hour sounds high to me. That would have been something like 5 hours of studying/homework a day every day of my college career. I definitely didn't do that in an average week. I'm sure the last couple weeks of every term bumped the average up a bit, but probably not to that level.

    Everyone is different. If you're trying to look for a general rule, you're doing it wrong.
  9. Apr 23, 2011 #8


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    The standard recommendation I've always seen is 2 hours outside of class for every lecture unit. Of course this will vary depending on the class, the student's aptitude, etc.
  10. Apr 23, 2011 #9


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    That rule of thumb worked very well for me, generally. It was more like 3+ hours for upper division core classes, though.
  11. Apr 23, 2011 #10
    I believe the proper answer here is you should spend as much time as necessary to learn the material. For some classes and/or semester that may be 3 hours per lecture. For others it may be 1 hour.

    Clearly you're not doing as well as you think you should be so that either means that you're not studying enough... OR... you're not studying properly. If more time investment does not do the trick, I'd ask someone at your school to help with how you study.
  12. Apr 23, 2011 #11


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    Yup the point is, C students spend X amount per day studying, A students spend Y amount per day. Y > X and you decide which you want to be.
  13. Apr 23, 2011 #12
    For me to do well, I have found that it requires just a tiny bit less than the very maximum amount of work that I can possibly handle. I think a good general rule is to just work really hard all the time.
  14. Apr 23, 2011 #13
    You spend 112 hours awake every week. If you have 23 hours of class and do 6 hours of homework.. what are you doing with the other 83 hours?
    Even if you subtract 5 hours every day from this to take your time eating, driving, walking etc... you still have 48 extra hours that you could spend studying.
    That is quite a lot of time every week. It would be good to spend some of it studying.
    It may be a good idea to try and come up with a sort of budget for your time.
  15. Apr 24, 2011 #14
    I generally agree. In my post I did say a minimum of 1 hour (which seems to be much more than the OP is doing now). Personally, I tend to do a lot more than the minimum for everything in life...

  16. Apr 24, 2011 #15
    I've always been told that it's 3 hours per credit, *total*, per week.

    I know last semester I was taking 21 credits and from the logs we were required to keep I spent an average of 50 hours per week on school.

    This is 13 hours short of what is recommended and I feel that explains why I was at ~3.5 GPA last semester instead of at or above 4.
  17. Apr 24, 2011 #16


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    Yah, 2-3 hours is reasonable. I think the general idea is that you shouldn't expect to spend just 2 hours a week total on any class :P
  18. Apr 24, 2011 #17


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    Do what you have to do. If you do all of your homework (problem sets and so on) with ease, then its probably a good indicator that you know what you're doing.

    If not, then make use of your available resources. They may include your friends, your TA's, lecturers, course coordinators (in their consultation time), forums (like this one), google, other books and so on.

    If for example, you did all your problem sets with ease and come exam time you absolutely got hammered, then I would go to the coordinator and have a serious chat. If you're wondering about that even happening, I would go and talk to the coordinator in person. They will probably give you a clear idea of what they expect and may even give you more problems to do.

    The world is your oyster, make what you can of it.
  19. Apr 24, 2011 #18


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    Don't measure it by hours, measure it by love. How much love are you giving the subject? Mechatronics is a beautiful profession, I would want to give it as much as I got, because it rewards back with a massive engineering knowledge. My college study schedule is about half as many hours as yours, and I usually do many study marathons on my own that can take hours on end. You're second year, by now it should be a lot more fun, no? :)

    I wouldn't time myself if I were you, I'd just "lose" myself in the concepts I'm studying.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  20. Apr 24, 2011 #19


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    Great advice :)
  21. Apr 24, 2011 #20


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    Indeed, it's silly to time yourself on the amount of time you study. You should study until you understand everything. If you can do your homework with ease, then try some additional (hard) problems. If you can solve them, then you understand the concept and you've studied enough.
    If you struggle on your homework and you can't keep up with class, then you're not studying enough.

    Like others have said: you're paying a lot of money for education. Don't waste it and study enough. Education is like a full-time job, really. You can spend all week partying, but then you'll waste it all...
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