Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How to study efficiently?

  1. Apr 18, 2006 #1
    I have a problem with studying, i keep studying a lot but i just can't get very good marks. I get stuff like 76+. But i had studied for 90+. Does anyone have any suggestions for improving my efficiency?:cry:
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Work out problem after problem after problem. That is the way to make it sink in, no matter what the subject. That is a very tough question to answer when we really don't know any details about your background, etc...

    I would not worry so much about efficiency as much as spending whatever the amount of time YOU need to understand something. If it takes you 10 times longer to get something, then so be it. Just make sure you spend that extra time. The only thing you should use to compare yourself to others is if you understand what is being talked about.
  4. Apr 18, 2006 #3
    I have around a 4.0 right now going into my jr. year majoring in Computer Engineering and I over study as well. I spend hours upon hours on this one subject and only a few on the others. You just have to learn time mangement. Set an alarm for 3 hours and once that time is up, switch to another subject.

    Also don't study by just looking at example problems or going over them in your head. Actually get out a piece of paper and work through them by hand again and again.

    Right after you get out of lecture, go over what he said to make sure you understand everything. If you don't, make a note and come back to it later.

    If you don't understand somthig, post it on here and make sure you show that you put work into it. They are a great help. 99% of all my posts are questions, so i owe my GPA to alot of these guys hah, thanks! :)
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2006
  5. Apr 21, 2006 #4
    I find that studying in short 30-40 minute intervals is much more effective than a 5 hour cram. Switch subjects often and make sure that you dont study so long that you become immune to picking anything new up.
  6. Apr 21, 2006 #5
    I tend to break up my studying into intervals also. However, it totally depends on your endurance, which is most likely completely different between each of us. For me, I can't "keep studying" for long hours because after awhile I just feel as if the material isn't sinking anymore. I solved the issue by partitioning my time. However, it may be different for you.
  7. Apr 21, 2006 #6

    Is it worth spending so much time....what i feel a person should finish what he is supposed to finish whether he understands or not and then comeback to the points where he think he is weak,,i believe he will be comfortable then....i think wasting more than a limited time breaks the continuity..and is not often good.
  8. Apr 21, 2006 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Perhaps you can help yourself by improving your classroom habits. In engineering school, I learned not to take copious notes during lectures, but to take notes selectively, especially on the things that the lecturer stressed or gave as examples. If your lecturer thinks that something is important, you should, too, because it will likely involve critical concepts that he or she will test you on to see if you "got it". When I studied for tests or did homework, I would refer to my notes, which would often look like shorthand sentences with prepositions, etc, omitted, and often I found that solving the problems often require the application of the ideas that I had jotted down. This may or may not work for you, but I took classes with some students who scribbled down everything they could during lectures - taking pages of notes, but often at the expense of comprehension, I fear. Good luck.
  9. Apr 21, 2006 #8
    I don't think it is enough, personally, to simply do problem after problem. I think it is equally important to sit down and think deeply about the subjects being discussed in class and set aside working problems for a while. While you can get by and get an A in your classes by only working problems and memorizing procedures, you might not necessarily understand the ins and outs of everything. There are too many people out there that haven't got a clue what they are doing, yet are still able to ace the tests and work (SOME) or the problems. I personally would prefer to be the B student that understands everything extremely well than the A student that doesn't understand much of anything. the B student that understands everything very well is able to THINK through a problem, as opposed to just simply regurgitate work steps like many A students. This is advantageous when a new type of problem pops up and there is no previously demonstrated method to solve the problem. Also, being the B student that understands everything very well gives another advantage over the A student that has less understanding when certain tricks or quirky problems pop up that you might not typically be tested on in the classroom.

    While you can certainly be an A student that understands everything very thoroughly, my point is that grades don't say everythnig about you and you should stop worrying about your letter grade so much and worry about what really matters, and that is learning. However, you still need to worry about grades, but don't let it stress you out too much when you get a B or something.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2006
  10. Apr 21, 2006 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I completely agree.
    As a teacher, I see some students who redo all the assignment problems an dthe practice problems and still fail or get low marks on the tests. Because they did not try to understand what they were doing. It seems that they think that preparing for a test is like preparing for a competition in weight lifting. If you have lifted enough weights, you will get to the competition and lift the weight given to you.

    The best way to learn is to do the problems, but before working them out (and *especially* before looking at the solutions), ask yourself: "is it clear to me how I should proceed? Do I see more than one way? Can I get started without looking at the solutions"?

    Too many times people basically copy down the solutions and feel that they have mastered a subject or solve a problem without ever stopping to figure out why they are doing it in a certain way.

    You will learn *a lot* if you tackle a problem and think about doing it one way and try this (without looking at the solution) and get stuck at some point or get a wrong answer. Then you go back and have to understand why this method is incorrect or why the result is wrong (at that point it is ok to look at the solutions). If you have used the right approach then it is just a matter of a math mistake possibly and you have to make sure you see your mistake. However, if the approach is wrong, you should see the teacher and understand what is incorrect with this approach (usually it makes you realize that you did not really understand the question, or that some formula applies only in some approximation or that you had a serious misunderstanding about some fundamental concept).

    If for some problems you just don't know how to get started, look at the solutions but take a minute to really absorb why this is the way to do it.

    After doing all that, if you go back over the problems and it is crystal clear why they must be done a certain way, then you have a much deeper understanding.

    I can say that usually the students who come to me saying "but why couldn't we do this way instead" are the ones who end up getting the best grades. Because they *think* about how to solve the problems instead of just grinding through.

    My two cents

  11. Apr 26, 2006 #10
    Thanks a lot for the suggestions and encouragements, i'll try to apply all those suggestions. Turbo, i think i'm some where in between when it comes to notes making. Sometimes i just mug up everything the lecture says like a xerox machine because i wouldn't understand little at the moment, then when i'm relaxed i read it up and let it 'sink in' at other times i understand it completly that i don't take notes and end up lacking reference before an exam.
    I used to study everything that there is in the book, even if it is not important for better understanding, but then i weigh both important and unimportant stuff equally. The during the pre-exam revisions there will be to much to revise, bringing down the score. Now i concentrate on important stuff, but even though it improves the scores, i only know what is needed for exams!
  12. Apr 27, 2006 #11
    I have a question. In English, don't they say "effectively" in stead of "efficiently" ? I know that in French, you don't say "efficient" but "efficace"

  13. Apr 27, 2006 #12
    We use both. "Effectively" means what you're doing works, and "efficiently" means what you're doing works well. So you could be effective but not efficient.
  14. Apr 27, 2006 #13
    I find it easier to study ahead of time, when I don't have to. No schedules, no deadlines, no exams, no worries.
  15. Apr 27, 2006 #14

    Tom Mattson

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I eventually learned not to take notes in class as well. There's a reading assignment for every class. After a while I learned that the best way to learn was to do the reading before the class, not after (as most students who I've known do). Instead of lecture notes I had reading notes. When I got to class I only had to write down the things that didn't come straight from the book, which allowed me to listen better. It also helped that I knew what was going on beforehand.
  16. Apr 27, 2006 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If you are really spending a lot of time studying then I recommend improving your test-taking skills. What exactly are you missing on the exams? Careless errors, not remembering the material, or not being able to figure out "creative" things that you do have the raw knowledge for? There are different approaches for each problem. If you are making careless errors then I recommend, no matter how painful it is, going back over your exam while you are taking it as many times as you have time for and inspecting everything carefully for error or possible misinterpretation on the part of the grader. If you don't remember the material then I guess you just better study more. If you are not able to figure out things that you do in principle understand, you should do more hard problems.
  17. Apr 27, 2006 #16
    ADD drugs....
  18. May 5, 2006 #17
    Same thing with me Hammie, I really suck at cramming.
  19. May 9, 2006 #18
    Yep. That was my strategy for Calc I through most of III. I don't know how fair it is to the instructors though. By the time I actually took the classes, they thought I was a genius or something..


    I'm currently working on advanced calc. I have close to half a year until I'll need it.
  20. May 18, 2006 #19
    my ways
    1) study ahead, then you gain deeper understanding during the actual class, you do homework when you get out of class.
    2) if too tired, go sleep or play for few hours, then come back to the battle field.
    3)Enough lighting
    4)Enough oxygen
    5)think of some examples about reality yourself.
  21. May 18, 2006 #20
    Actually for me , if I want the material to sink in , I gotta study for long hours. It seems not effictive to me if you study half an hour and then take a break and then another half an hour. I get distracted a lot. I usually like to dive. just forget everything else and go for a 4-10 hours straight. and then revise the whole thing to see if I missed a point or two.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook