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How Should I Spend My Time Studying?

  1. Aug 22, 2013 #1
    I'm going to be a sophomore in high school very soon now and I want to learn some more physics since I want to major in physics in college so I decided that I should learn calculus first but in order to learn calculus I have to learn less advanced math so I thought that I should self study to learn Algebra 2, Trigonometry, Calculus and then I would study physics. However after thinking about it for awhile this seems like I could use my time more wisely. I will be taking all these math classes and more in high school so it seems like instead of using my time to learn something that I am eventually going to learn anyway that I should rather spend my time studying other things such as more basic physics that doesn't involve calculus, computer programming, etc. Does this strategy make more since then learning all that math or should I go ahead and learn the math?
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  3. Aug 22, 2013 #2
    learning math early is not a waste of time. trigonometry and calculus are really easy concepts to understand if someone explains them to you intuitively, and you could achieve some level of proficiency in a day. If you're really curious, ask your parents to hire a tutor and sit down with him or her for 9 hours on a saturday.

    programming would also be healthy skill at your age. knowing how to program enhances your general problem solving skill, just like math will.

  4. Aug 23, 2013 #3


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    I agree. Concentrate on Algebra and Algebra 2. If you stay on track, you will reach the courses you need when you are ready for them. The one thing you should be aware, the time might be too early for you to go into more physics, but on the other hand, physics gives you more reasons and ways to USE both Algebra and computer programming. Still, concentrate first on further algebra. You can often find other ways to apply programming skills without doing something with physics.
  5. Aug 23, 2013 #4
    I agree too, but it's been long enough since I was in high school that you should take anything I say with a grain of salt. Programming sounds like a good thing to learn - it was something that was mostly inaccessible in my day due to lack of access to good learning materials and the commercially available compilers.

    I also say this: I read a lot ABOUT science. I think that was a good thing. I particularly like the ScienceNow blog now. But back in the day, I read a LOT of popular science books.
  6. Aug 25, 2013 #5
    I was thinking that after school everyday I would watch what was taught in class on Khan Academy so the information presented could really be absorbed. Then I would use the extra time to study different subjects. Does this sound like a good plan? If not what else should I do?
  7. Aug 28, 2013 #6


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    No matter what subject you're studying, I believe the majority of your time should be spent working/solving problems. Watching videos and reading supplementary materials is fine, but the greatest benefit to your education will be learning how to think about and solve all different types of problems.

    Even though the problem-solving process is straightforward, applying it to any problem you encounter is not always easy and will take a lot of practice.
  8. Aug 29, 2013 #7


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    Since you're in high school I would be sure to pace myself. You've got a lot of studying/working in your future.

    In my case, I worked my way up from rarely-if-ever studying in high school, to medium (maybe three hours a night) studying in undergrad, to heavy (at least five hours seven days a week) when I was taking course work in graduate school, to insane (at least 10 hours a day, six or seven days a week, on top of my other duties) when I was studying for my Ph.D. screening and qualifying exams.

    If I had started full bore right out of the gate in high school, I imagine I would have burned out. I almost did, anyway.

    Just another perspective. I did goof around with computers and learned to program and stuff in middle school and high school but I considered that play, not studying.

    I would also agree that working problems gives you the most bang-for-the-buck. It also exposes your weaknesses so it can guide your reading and lecture watching.
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