How to study efficiently?

  • Thread starter amith
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  • #26
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Im more of an auditory learner. So I record what I need to learn onto my Mp3 player, and listen to them :) Maybe a similar plan may work for you? Also some people learn by pictures, So try tree diagrams too. Only by trial and error will you find the technics most suited to you :)
 
  • #27
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Go home and re-read the notes that was given to you in class. That way you understand what you learnt and that way you are more likely to remember it. In class notes are given to you in a rush. At home you can go through it more slowly.
 
  • #28
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I'm really not sure what to do anymore. I'm a returning student with a completely different career path. I'm okay with reading ahead and trying to stay on top of things, but I'm also a furious note scribbler. I keep thinking that if I don't know it then, I'll figure it out later. Well my "laters" are not all that flexible. I have the capacity to learn this stuff and I've tried everything except standing on my head to understand math and physics. I'm in Physics II, Calculus III and IV and Meteorology, and I figure if I made it this far, I know something. I'm above 30, and I don't have the stamina for the all-nighters. Physics seems to be a mix of learning concepts and applying equations. Those who can solve the equations seem to get the A's and those who learn the concepts pretty much have that "understanding" that someone eluded to in an earlier post. I've tried to focus on either equations or concepts hoping for higher grades and a better understanding, but I still miss something. I need to do a major overhaul on my studying tactics, but I don't know what to try that I haven't already tried. Help?
 
  • #29
JasonRox
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I'm really not sure what to do anymore. I'm a returning student with a completely different career path. I'm okay with reading ahead and trying to stay on top of things, but I'm also a furious note scribbler. I keep thinking that if I don't know it then, I'll figure it out later. Well my "laters" are not all that flexible. I have the capacity to learn this stuff and I've tried everything except standing on my head to understand math and physics. I'm in Physics II, Calculus III and IV and Meteorology, and I figure if I made it this far, I know something. I'm above 30, and I don't have the stamina for the all-nighters. Physics seems to be a mix of learning concepts and applying equations. Those who can solve the equations seem to get the A's and those who learn the concepts pretty much have that "understanding" that someone eluded to in an earlier post. I've tried to focus on either equations or concepts hoping for higher grades and a better understanding, but I still miss something. I need to do a major overhaul on my studying tactics, but I don't know what to try that I haven't already tried. Help?
I've never stayed up all night, and I don't think anyone should. If you're not a crammer, that should never happen in undergraduate. In fact, I never want it to happen to me. I'll know less by having no sleep.

If you really do read ahead and work hard, just keep it up because they're good habits to have.
 
  • #30
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I've never stayed up all night, and I don't think anyone should. If you're not a crammer, that should never happen in undergraduate. In fact, I never want it to happen to me. I'll know less by having no sleep.

If you really do read ahead and work hard, just keep it up because they're good habits to have.
Thanks Jason. But I'm still not getting the information "in". I should also mention that I have difficulties focusing when the material is difficult. My change in study habits is not to get rid of any of the good ones, but to find a different approach/system to apply to physics II (mainly) as well as the advanced math classes. There HAS to be other ways of learning this stuff.
 
  • #31
JasonRox
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Thanks Jason. But I'm still not getting the information "in". I should also mention that I have difficulties focusing when the material is difficult. My change in study habits is not to get rid of any of the good ones, but to find a different approach/system to apply to physics II (mainly) as well as the advanced math classes. There HAS to be other ways of learning this stuff.
I learn the stuff on my own if I really want to learn it.

I found what they do in the classroom never really worked, or atleast at my school it doesn't. It has worked only with a professor or two. Otherwise, it never does.

I found reading the textbook myself, and doing lots of problems works pretty well. And if I don't understand Chapter 5, then I don't understand a previous Chapter. So, I just keep working on that previous chapter. I see students getting frustrasted how they don't understand a thing going on, but I realize that they don't understand a thing taught before either!
 
  • #32
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Sarlizwx are you sure that the information is not getting 'in'? Or is it that you don't understand it so that you don't let it 'in' your brain? Not everyone gets everything. And it takes longer to some people than others. Yes, i agree with the part that as you get older you get tired more easily. I remember i could stay all night when i was younger, but now i get sleepy very easily. If you don't get what they teach you ask the teacher or even here in the forum.

I also agree with JasonRox that if you are learning it as duty for grades or whatever, they just don't get into your brain the same way as something you want to know. You want to know something, you look for it, you read it, tackle it and do everything and all.

But the thing is that nowadays to get a good job you have to complete college which makes study a duty. Even though you might pretend that the classes are fun, when you pretend you are just pretending. That is why people say that go for a career that you like so that you doing in something that you are interested. Of course, the concept of college today is not only to study but to make friends have fun and all. But the experience you can make most of is to be able to complete any requirements. When you are out in the society, not everything is going to happen like you want it to. You have to tackle it even if it means cheating. That is why is not only to study well, but to study smart. Even if it is cheating, you have cheat smartly so that you are not found out. (not encouraging you to cheat but is a fact, right?)

There are people who want to learn and don't have the money. Others, learn because it is fun. Others like some subject and still have to take the ones they dislike because it is a requirement. So why to study? You are the one to decide. Drop out of college? Or challenge it saying "I know i can do it! Even if it takes 10, 20, 30 years. Even if it takes all eternity!" You are the one to decide.
_____________________________
As i have read and you might as well, different people have their own way to learn things. Some people prefer one method and others another. But what you can really do is to improve your ways to study; so that it is not that hard, but a easier.

Notes taking:
I personally don't take notes but once in a while i write something. When you study in college, people normally can't get everything in their brains. You need notes or records to remind you of some details. Of course you can but it is 'hard'. So why not make your life easier? Of course, you can go well without taking notes. But take it if you need it. But remember it is notes that you should take, not a script of what happened in the lecture. The brain is better for processing information than memorizing information.

Reading before lecture:
Of course it helps! Some teachers go really fast. Also when the teachers say it, and you read beforehand you get things better. Even if you read it once and don't get it all all, by the time you hear it, you become more familiar with it. Even if you understood the book, you get a better idea in class. Or whether the teacher is right or wrong, you know it!

Being active in class:
You don't necessarily have to participate but if you do so you becomes better at it because you are using the material you learned. Being active is not only about participating but listening critically. Although the teacher knows better about the subject, he/she is human and makes mistakes. In addition, it is better to take summarized notes so that it won't take away your attention.

Personal study:
I won't go over individual or group study since it depends on the person but personal study includes reading before and after class. It doesn't necessarily have to be after lecture but you should review things to make sure that what you understand is right and not the wrong info. And practice of course. When you are doing the test, you have a limited time to answer questions.

To get straight A's you don't have to understand everything. You only have to do the right steps and memorize the right things. Even if you learned everything, will you be able to use it all in your job? You might and might not. Also after you get your job, you will still be learning new things and companies even train you and some even require tests. So put more effort to what you consider to be important and less effort to the one you don't consider that important (but don't slack off!).

Last thing is that to know it is something. To be able to use it is another. If you know your habits and you are not correcting it, nothing changes.

Phew.... finished typing....

P.S. You are the one to decide.
 
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  • #33
Every individual has his or her own unique learning style, and good study habits are key to any student. This has been proven extensively in the previous posts. The one tip I would like to add is a way of testing yourself. The only true way of finding out if you understand material is to teach. My philosophy is that if you can teach it, you understand it. Sometimes it isn't enough to blindly know formulas and work problems. Start fresh, and explain everything to yourself. With the ideas that you stumble over or question, go back and review. It may help to explain the ideas to another student who either is a pro in the subject or has never heard of it. Whatever way makes you feel comfortable, stick with it.

More than anything ask questions! Observe your teacher and find out the best way to ask a question. My particular teacher responds best if you ask a question involving whether an assumption you made is correct, over a "what is going on" type question. Ask questions to yourself, and keep asking them until you can confidently answer them.

Hopefully those ideas help somewhat.
Oh and cshum00 is right. You are the one to decide.
 
  • #35
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Thanks to all for your tips! I'm still going through some of it. But you get the idea that what I'm after is a different approach to learning this stuff. Maybe it is a different mindset. Thanks.
 
  • #36
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To get straight A's you don't have to understand everything. You only have to do the right steps and memorize the right things. Even if you learned everything, will you be able to use it all in your job? You might and might not. Also after you get your job, you will still be learning new things and companies even train you and some even require tests. So put more effort to what you consider to be important and less effort to the one you don't consider that important (but don't slack off!).

P.S. You are the one to decide.
A lot of good information there! I'll admit I'm compulsive at taking notes and I should probably do it less. A LOT LESS! I may just write out of fear that I won't have the information later. Sad thing is, when I go to study my notes, they don't have everything I need. I'm also spending a lot of time trying to organize my notes. By organizing, I don't mean creating a fancy outline, I mean trying to figure out whether to redraw the picture the instructor has on the board so I can understand it better and trying to figure out if the example on the side board should go in somewhere or not. Half the time I'll leave something out that seems unimportant, then go back and try and copy it while missing something else because I see where the instructor is referencing it again and again. Then I'm back into the horrible whirlwind (pardon the reference, I'm a Meteorology student) of obsessing over my notes. My Calculus III instructor does nothing but write on the board. As soon as he starts into proofs, I put the pencil down and follow along. Bottom line is I want to learn Physics because it is a very important part of my field. I'm paying for these classes because Meteorology (and Climatology) is my dream. I may not need to know about magnetic fields to do my job, but I will be a researcher and much of my job will involve Physics to some degree. Of course I want to do well. I'm tired of watching my GPA go downhill and I'd like a scholarship or two. But I really want to get this!

Thanks for your feedback.
 
  • #37
Moonbear
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Science Advisor
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I'm really not sure what to do anymore. I'm a returning student with a completely different career path. I'm okay with reading ahead and trying to stay on top of things, but I'm also a furious note scribbler. I keep thinking that if I don't know it then, I'll figure it out later. Well my "laters" are not all that flexible. I have the capacity to learn this stuff and I've tried everything except standing on my head to understand math and physics. I'm in Physics II, Calculus III and IV and Meteorology, and I figure if I made it this far, I know something. I'm above 30, and I don't have the stamina for the all-nighters.
When it comes to note-taking, put down the pen and listen. If you don't understand anything in the lecture and feel compelled to have to scribble it all down in hopes of learning it later, then you need to prepare beforehand for lecture. Skim the textbook chapter in advance of lecture...not read...skim. Look for key terms, bold text, highlighted definitions, etc. Know those before you go to class, and if you don't understand one...make a note of that. Then, when you are sitting in lecture, you'll recognize the terms you have already seen in the text, and it will be easier to follow the logic of the lecture because you know where the chapter is going. This mean you can listen carefully, and only when the lecturer gets to the terms/topics that you did not understand in the text will you need to write something down. But, wait for the full explanation, then jot the few key points down that you didn't get from the textbook. Notes and textbooks complement one another. If you saw something in the text you didn't understand, and the lecture did not clarify it for you, that is when you need to be one of those people surrounding the professor at the end of class asking individual questions about things you missed.

Physics seems to be a mix of learning concepts and applying equations. Those who can solve the equations seem to get the A's and those who learn the concepts pretty much have that "understanding" that someone eluded to in an earlier post.
You need both. You won't be able to solve the equations if you don't understand the underlying concepts. This is a common mistake, that people just try to plug numbers into any equation that looks like it has the right selection of variables in it to match the problem, but a lot of equations can look like that, and selecting the right one requires understanding when and how it is used.

I've tried to focus on either equations or concepts hoping for higher grades and a better understanding, but I still miss something. I need to do a major overhaul on my studying tactics, but I don't know what to try that I haven't already tried. Help?
Look at both equations and concepts. I'd suggest starting with a list of the new equations you learned in a lecture, and then using that to identify the relevant concepts. For each variable in the equation, where did it come from, what does it mean, why do you use it in that equation, why wouldn't you use something else that sounds really similar in that equation? Look over all of the equations...compare them to one another. What ones include the same or similar variables, what ones look similar, but actually use different variables. If you derived the equations from other equations, why does that work, and why would you do it that way? Make sure you understand how the math works and what it means.

At this stage, you may have missed too much earlier in the course to grasp the newer concepts. You may have to find time to really go back to the basics and figure out where you lost your way. Once you get behind in a class, it is really hard to catch up, but if you want to do well, you have to do it.
 

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