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How to study

  1. Mar 2, 2006 #1
    studying was not a problem for me and i dont hate studying,but recently there has been a problem which has cropped up, here it is

    What i find is the knowledge/information is quite distributed, for eg there is not a single good textbook which can satisfy me, and so therefore i tempt to plan to study a lot of books but end reading none and even i don't rely on my lecture notes. It is a serious problem and i am feeling the heat now, frustration to perform well.

    Pls suggest an effective way to study

    moreover i have ZERO % concentration in the Lecture Class and reading speed is also low

    Pls suggest

    I hope i put it in right section
    thanks in advance
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 2, 2006 #2
    I believe you have answered your own question as to finding an effective way to study: Stop messing around!

    You have to fix this then. Forget about thinking in lecture classes if you help it. Lectures are there to give you a general idea about what kind of task you are set to do, and note taking more than anything is ESSENTIAL. You HAVE to go over your lecture after the lecture, no 'I'll do it later'. Do it right afterwards with a relevant book.

    As for relevant books, the school/college have most likely RECOMMENDED to you what books is specifically required for whatever syllabus you are doing. I'm going to say it out loud: There is no easy way going around it, you are going to have to do serious hard work: as in doing neat copies of notes to get into your head, and answering questions to do stuff. I was like you; i screwed around, but then i relised what i idiot i was and got the highest score in the chemistry test in the school. How? ^&^%ing hard work.

    You have to acdemically slap yourself and get a taste of reality; no one is going to do it for you, there is no easy way out (well, one if you call hard work easy way out). Colleges, and schools especially are NOT a good environment to be creative. It simple; Syllabuses are not made to be friendly towards creativity. It goes down to hard, hard, hard work to go through with successful grades.

    My advice? Get a hold of yourself, and tomorrow, go to the local library and do some work!
  4. Mar 2, 2006 #3


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    I disagree. I always take notes and I almost never look at 90% of them later. I just write things down because the writing action might help me remember and involves my mind in the class more; most of the pages I take I might as well burn afterwards, because they just sit in a folder until the end of the semester. You can't shut your brain off while the professor is talking--that's the best time to figure it out. Sometimes the professor says essential stuff that you can't get from elsewhere, but usually the essential stuff is just administrative detail and everything else you can get straight from the book. Lecture time is basically required study time. 100% attention is necessary to get the most out of the lecture and it saves you out-of-class study time.
  5. Mar 2, 2006 #4
    Out of class study and lecture time are different things. They cannot be put into the same context of 'time usage'.

    A lecture isn't the best time to figure it out. As I said before, it is to give you the general idea of the concepts and derivation of formulae (in the context of science) that is, as you say, essential. Well, do you miss any of that with writing it down?

    Half the time, About 5 minutes later the lecture I forget everything that has been said in there. Thats why notes are absolutely essential to copy down neatly and to keep hacking at the notes until you 'get it'. I put my priority on the notes:

    So you wouldn't know the experience of copying down notes.
  6. Mar 2, 2006 #5


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    Well, if you "forget about thinking" in lecture halls and just focus on transcribing what is said no wonder you have trouble remembering it. You can almost always get the same lecture material from the book, what you can't get back is the thinking time.

    Myself, I often find that it is much easier to understand material starting fresh from the lecture rather than from reading the book. The talking pace of the professor often keeps me thinking faster and understanding more than I would from reading a text.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2006
  7. Mar 3, 2006 #6


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    In some classes note taking just isn't helpful - the professor might not write much - or anything good/better than text - and you'd be wasting time copying everything.

    Other times I can't believe how SIMPLE the subject matter becomes when just going over the notes. I'd look at the text and wonder if it's the same subject. :rofl:

    It mostly depends on the professor though - how good is he/she in cutting all the unnecessary material and presenting the core stuff adequately.

    Right now though I missed nearly the entire first month of my intro to circuits and intro to digital design classes because I nearly dropped on the 2nd week and got sick for another. :frown:

    I'm trying to tell myself that everything I need is in the texts - after all it's the same subject. Still, I know I'd have an easier time if I went to lectures with professors going over problems.

    I really hope I DO understand things perfectly though - regardless of how hard it is to get there. Somehow I'm paranoid that missing those lectures (which will never ever happen again. *weeps*) will mean I'm eternally 'stuck' in never ever understanding this core material 100%... unfounded paranoia, yeah, but annoying... and yes I have OCD. =\

    I know I'll feel better after solving many problems. I already do after sounding off in this thread haha.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2006
  8. Mar 3, 2006 #7
    Well, my philosophy certainly doesn't work for everyone. However, in lecture, I take very few notes, if any. First of all, my professors gives the students note handouts. Second, when in lecture, I focus 100% on the lecture, and try not to divert my concentration to writing things down. In lecture, my brain is 100% in tune to the lecture topics.

    In lecture I take no notes and just focus. My textbook is my notebook. Sometimes, if a professor says something that likely won't be in the textbook, I write the comment in the margin of the text (the professor tends to say if the topic he/she is talking about is not in the book). Plus, when you have no notes to refer to, it forces you to read the text thoroughly and deeply, instead of just skimming the important lecture topics.

    Also, of course make sure you find a place to study/work on hw that is 100% quiet (no TV, computer, humans, or other distractions) and be consistent with your study location and time. I know many people say they need background noise to concentrate...this is bull****. You'll connect with the material at a much deeper level if it is 100% quiet. Before you study, make sure you're not hungry, and you're nourished with nutritious foods.

    Also, when studying physics or engineering, or any hard sciences, try to minimize memorization of formulas and attempt to develop an intuitive grasp of why the formulas look the way they do. This might require a great deal of effort on your part, and you may need to read over something many times before things fall into place and you're confident you thoroughly understand the material. Finally, don't underestimate the findamentals of physics and engineering. science and engineering concepts usually build vertically, and your ability to understand higher level concepts depends greatly on your understanding of the fundamentals. A bad foundation will basically make you miserable throughout your physics/engineering curriculum, and nothing will make sense. In this case, you WILL simply be regurgitating formulas.

    Also, it is not about how long you study....it is how effectively you study. Studying for 15 hours when you're exhausted, hungry, and your roomates are being loud can often be equal to 2 hours of studying in more ideal conditions.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2006
  9. Mar 4, 2006 #8
    Textbook publisher/Author often has relationship with some professor. For example, I have never used my textbook that was required to buy for class. The only reason why the professor uses that book was because he is too lazy to write homework problems. And Nowaday, classes tend to become a learn-how-to-pass-the-exam preparation. In my ODE class, every problem has been discussed in clas is easy, from the book and MUST be on tests or exams. I am mainly looking for deeper knowledge but not higher degree of my education. I am not disagreeing what you are saying. Though, we must recognise that some people are going to a school/class that fits them.
    (i shall not talk about notes because it will become an offensive topic -_-)
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2006
  10. Mar 5, 2006 #9

    matt grime

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    Orthodontist and bladbila, you could probably do with 'comparing' notes about what courses you're talking about, and where they're being given.

    Lectures, to me from an English background (and a very particular one at that), ought to go so fast and contain so much information that you cannot do anything but write them down and try to keep up with the lecturer; it is about giving information, it is up to you to understand it later, how much work that takes is dependent on the individual.

    From my equally limited experience of lecturing in the States (2nd year undergrad multivariable calc) I could easily assert there is no need to attend the lectures. I struggled to make the material fit the time provided, frequently choosing to end the class 20 minutes early.

    In the interests of full disclosure, why doesn't everyone make clear the country and level of their experience? Struggling to cope at Cambridge is expected, struggling at Palookaville Liberal Arts College is a bad sign.
  11. Mar 5, 2006 #10


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    I disagree. There is most definitely the need to attend lectures, this especially applies to subjects that require high cognitive abilities such as in maths and physics. Forgive me for submitting such blunt sounding opposition but a student will always have questions in mind. Lectures should not under any circumstances be all about taking notes. Students must have the right to stop, read and ask questions in class. A book will NEVER replace a lecture.
  12. Mar 5, 2006 #11

    matt grime

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    Again, what assumptions are you making? I was expressly talking about the one course that I lectured. Perhaps I have a higher opinion of students abilities (or a misconception based on unfounded idealism), but the content of that second year undergrad course did not demand any attendance at lectures: there was nothing conceptually difficult at all in it, there was no development of a larger theory, and it was a series of poorly related topics about which little needed to be said; it was intellectually bereft of life.

    I certainly agree that books will never replace lectures, and moreoever I feel that they *should* never replace them, but if the lecture course itself is undemanding, perhaps its existence ought to be re-evaluated. Many courses are nothing more than merely doing calculations with no thought required (plug and chug was the wonderful phrase one of my students taught me), which is why I think the original question, and its follow-ups, is missing vital information. I would also add that for reasons I cannot explain, listening to someone lecture, even if they are essentially saying the same thing as the book, is far more valuable than reading the book. Of course I am implicitly assuming that the university courses I'm familiar with are what we're talking about; we certainly aren't talking about those though.

    You cannot treat all courses as the same, all students as the same, and all universities as the same.

    And (perhaps this is cultural) under no circumstances do I agree that the lecture hall is the correct place to ask a 'conceptual' question. That is what office hours are for; there is no replacement for dedicated one-to-one conversation to isolate and fix a problem. But that is just a reflection of the system I grew up in.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2006
  13. Mar 5, 2006 #12


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    I was not acquainted with this scenario in your previous post, therefore I deduced it applied to normal lectures. In this specific case I too agree it should be re-evaluated.

    I would agree or disagree depending on whether this 'office hours' - we call it a workshop - is what I'm thinking it is. Are you referring to a private lecture where the student is required to pay? If so I disagree.
  14. Mar 5, 2006 #13

    matt grime

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    Pay? Hell, no. 'Office Hours' is whatever small group tuition the institution provides (at no cost*) for students. Tutorials, supervisions or phrases are also used. Indeed, I was using Office Hours 'unnaturally' since I hoped it would be the most universal phrase available. In anycase, a course ought to have two distinct aspects. That portion where information is given over, then after students have digested it, an opportunity for them to have their questions answered. Speaking about maths, I find it unlikely that in any course worth its salt that any student (beyond the uber talented) will be able to take in, digest, and then form a reasonable question whilst listening to the lecturer. It is this aspect of it that students often fail to appreciate: you're supposed to be required to go away and think about it when at university. If the lecturer says something is 'obvious' in mathematics, that does not meant it should be obvious in the normal sense of the word.

    * beyond the completely indefensible tuition fees.
  15. Mar 25, 2006 #14
    May be it's because of your mistakable choice of your course,I mean you should select a subject your interest lies in.I can not focus on anything else except physics ,for I am really fond of it ,and I decide to devoteed to it .However, I majored in mechanic and electronic engineer.I have no foundations on physics ,what should I do?
    I do not no how I can start and be well up in those subject,can anybody give me some advice? thanks a lot-----daifeili@163.com
  16. Mar 26, 2006 #15
    Ahhh the art of studying.

    There is definetly an art to being intelligent and it is something everyone can learn.

    Personally i feel to get a good degree, u have to teach yourself how to think and once u teach yourself how to think,learning anything becomes easy.

    1stly when you go into a lecture DO NOT WRITE everything the teacher writes on the BOARD. BIG MISTAKE YOU WILL NOT READ IT. Instead try to understand what he is saying.

    IF your teacher is dull then the lecture is useless as YOU WILL NOT LISTEN.
    IE speaking monotone,speaking fast,no hand gestures,no pictures.
    This will normally put you off the subject as subconciously you will think its dull.So it will already make it harder. Personally i dont like being effected by other people who will detrimant by own performance.
    I think people who are dull can undertsand other dull people because that is how they are.

    Now here is the important bit. Your mind works in pictures and in colours. So whenever you right notes. Dont just state facts, you will fall asleep.

    What i do is i try to turn my notes into a story, like a novel, what happened,why it happened and why is it interesting. Also when you right these notes remember to draw colour diagrams. This is because a picture paints a 1000 words. If u try remembering words then u will forget.

    Also conquer your state of mind, do not think to yourself you cannot do it. Instead think why is this easy, why is it fascinating,why do i want to learn and why do people find this fascinating.

    Remove words like 'try' and maybe from your vocab instead think your a 'winner'. You can practice this by hunching over and stating this.

    Next when you write your notes use lots of colours and underline. Why do u think advertising is in colours because you remember it better.
    Also whenever your stuck or not sure of anything or feel you might foreget something. WRITE SIDE COMMENTS underlined and arrowed.

    Also think in rhymes is quite good as well.

    Basically my theory is people who think they are intelligent do things in there head without either realisng it, or they dont want to tell other people how they understand things. Remember in physics, all the concepts are in plenty of books so all you are doing is learning how to understand them.

    Finally in an exam dont stress out.

    Basically as john mcenroe(tennis player) said 'the reason he became good at tennis was that all he did was copy rod laver'

    This can be applied to all sports and has improved my tennis.

    so copy how other intelligent people think and u become intelligent.U just have to be aware and be positive.
  17. Mar 27, 2006 #16


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    That was a good post fabsuk. :)
  18. Mar 27, 2006 #17
    Your problem sounds too familiar to me primenumber...When i was at school, i hardly had to make any effort, i didn't even had to study before some of the exams, it was all there, and what i didn't know was easy to get...What didn't stick, will come in a way or another , with some mroe understanding...I didn't concentrate in any of my classes, and didn't do homeworks and not much effort was needed home.

    At college, i got through the 1st general year the same way, but on the contrary instead of gettin all A and maybe some B, i got all the kind of gardes from A>D. Which was a kinda drop.

    The 1st nuclear engineering year, i got an overall c (a collection fo a, b,c) in the 1st term, and i did it the same way, only relied on my understanding from the lectures, and most importantly, many people ahd trouble understanding, so i used to explain whatever they didn't get, and it was a type of collecting information and studying...But again no effort was done.

    The 2nd term, i failed in 3 subjects (cause i also dropped lectures) out of 6 because things got heavier, and i needed to work my hands. And study more. And i really couldn't accept the idea ofworking or doing any effort, for that i dropped 2 years, for 3 subjects in one term.I've no troubles with reading or fetching for what iw ant, just couldn't habituate myself to the idea of "hard work is needed"

    After that i started to accomodate myself in the new system, i had no trouble in figuring outhow to do it and here are the tips:

    1- The lecture is 100% important, even if you are not really concentrating, it's important, u'll remember a thing or 2 and will help you to better understand the subject, if you tried to train yourself on not gettin distracted and concentrating on the lecture, this will be a super transition for you. That's what got me back to As and Bs...

    2- The notes are also quite important, specially that there r some subjects where you cna hardly rely on any books, for example lecture notes were the msot important to me when studying nuclear physics, because all the books available were not satisfying, this will help you not to get lost, and to keep on track with the main focus points of the course.
    Also sometimes there are things you wouldn't find in books.

    On the other hand a subject like project management is not something to take notes of, i make sure that i concentrate at least 90% of the lecture and then try to solve problems, and this is how it sticks...

    So taking notes or not dependign on the course nature, also helps you keeping track of what's important, moreover, i write what i understand not what the professor write or says...

    3- Your first referrence is again, the lecture notes, you strart with these, if there's something that is not clear or if you need to know more about it, u'll have to ask your professor for the most recommended text book.
    Sometimes the course depends mainly on a sum of textbooks not only one, a bit from here, another from there, the lecture is what tells what is important, and what do you need from each book, so u start with book one, there's a missing point that's been said in the lecture, u look for another book and so on...

    4- generally what keeps the informations in your head, is thinking of them, trying to find applications for them, solving problems, thinking of everything that surrpunds you...Explaining to yourself, why do we calculate it this way,. why did we choose this method and the other not...
    In resume, the best way to keep a piece of information in ur hea dand to get a better understanding, u need to use it!

    Oh that was really long.
  19. Sep 24, 2006 #18
    i am exactly the same case as Nomy-the wanderer was,thnks buddy it must help me too, i am now more focused.
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