How to take math, physics, and engineering courses

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  • Thread starter Obelisk017
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  • #1
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"how to take math, physics, and engineering courses"

I'm wondering how one would go about "taking" them. is there a special way you have to tackle them? or should it be simple as go to class take notes, do problems, and take exams? the above is the approach I have had, and it's not working. Also, how would one study for these classes, and do well exam wise. I'm not the smartest guy, but I'm not the dumbest either. I'm not a physics or math whiz, but I've been told I have a good work ethic. I'm willing to put in the effort and time, I think my problem may have to do with where I should channel my energy or something to that effect. So what are some ways I can improve/ tackle appropriately/ pay more attention to?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
68
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Try to understand the theory behind each problem and don't just memorize the steps to solve them.
 
  • #3
Pengwuino
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How are you actually studying? Can you identify where you're going wrong in your studies or on tests?
 
  • #4


Reading the textbook and doing problem seems to be all that is required for pure sciences.

For engineering doing many practise midterms and problems along with a brief review of theory seems to work for most people I know.
 
  • #5
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to Pengwuino:

how I study is pretty much how I have stated. I do however feel like, before taking some exams a feeling of not knowing.

also when I take classes, I go through them with a feeling of holy sh*t what is this? this is so hard what the h#ll? then try to eek out a good grade and be totally obliterated, then when I take it again I do better. I can't keep doing this. I need to be able to take classes once and do adequate if not better.
 
  • #6
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Here's how I study for math courses:

I obviously sit every lecture and take notes. However, I also get to know the professor's style. If they tend to lecture directly from the book, I sometimes don't take notes so I can try to listen to and comprehend more of the lecture itself. That just comes down to knowing how to best work with the professor's style.

When it comes to reading the book, I like to have read the sections in question before the lecture on them. I don't tend to go too in-depth, but I read over the material to establish some superficial familiarity. Afterward, I generally read over the book again to reconcile the lecture with the material I read. When I'm reading the book, it helps me to take notes on key theorems, writing them in my own words to help me better understand them. I also like to do all the proofs on my own. Ideally, I attempt the proofs from the book before I actually read them, but that doesn't always work out. Still, I focus on trying to understand the theory conceptually. That provides a pretty solid foundation for the homework problems and in classes where all the material ties together--like Linear Algebra--it's imperative to stay on top of everything.
 
  • #7
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It sounds like, you need to take less classes. I would just take one less class in spring, and use the extra time to:
-get involved in study groups with others in your class
-go to professor's office hours
-read supplemental material from other sources. Sometimes you just need to read a few different people's description of the same topic and it will make sense. Go to the library and grab a different textbook for the class your taking and read the section your struggling with.
 
  • #8
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how I study is pretty much how I have stated. I do however feel like, before taking some exams a feeling of not knowing.

also when I take classes, I go through them with a feeling of holy sh*t what is this? this is so hard what the h#ll?
Welcome to my world. The only reason I manage to maintain an above average (but not spectacular) gpa is by putting marathon 12+ hour study sessions.
 
  • #9
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If you have a good work ethic, my advice is to push yourself in the first 2-3 weeks of the semester. Some people waste time thinking it's still break the first week. Managing your time effectively is also important.

Also, memorization is important. If you have trouble recalling particular facts on an exam, then that will cost you time, regardless of whether you end up remembering the facts (and if you don't, then that was completely your fault). This does not mean that you try to actively memorize as you work through the material. Ideally, if you've worked with the concepts frequently enough, you'll naturally memorize the crucial definitions or results. However if it's the day before the exam and you can't remember the definitions or state the theorems correctly, then I think memorization is a priority. This is especially true for a math class, where you're expected to apply theorems in a novel way on hard exams. Sometimes it's as simple as cycling through the various hypotheses of the theorems you've learned to immediately see what the relevant tool is. Again, overall memorization is not a priority, but definitely don't neglect it.
 
  • #10
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It helped me A LOT to try to review the material before the lecture. This will help your understanding and also answer questions you might have.

For exams a good student will mark or remember what the professor emphasized on during lecture and homework and put more time into studying that material. Doing assigned homework problems shouldn't be your limit. Force yourself to ask questions and wonder why things are the way they are.

Whatever you do... DO NOT cram.
 
  • #11
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Yeah I should note specifically that some professors give away exam questions. This is usually not very blatant, but pay particular attention to results that were stated but not proved or derived. Also from my experience with math courses, it's pretty common to give a question (maybe a lemma or even main theorem) from a subsequent section taught after the exam if that material is really just a logical extension of what you've already covered.
 

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