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Studying Self study routine

  1. May 10, 2016 #1
    I've noticed that my routine for studying mathematics, physics, chemistry etc. isn't doing me any good. It seems that no matter how much effort i put into studying the material, im always one step behind and my test scores come back horrible. My current routine will be to read through the text, write down any important equations and example problems, watch instructor videos explaining the concepts, watch instructors solving example problems, and finally practice problems on my own until i feel like i've mastered the concept. Every time my preparation fails, i intensify the volume of which i do those steps. But it seems to do no good. My cousin on the other hand is outstanding with test scores well above the class average. He told me that he was in my position at one time but soon found his "groove" and everything has been smooth sailing for him ever since. Im starting to wonder if my routine isn't right for my learning capabilities. So i was wondering if some of you could share what you found to be helpful when learning difficult concepts. It's time for me to remodel my study routine.
     
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  3. May 10, 2016 #2

    symbolipoint

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    Look at the book material for a class lesson BEFORE that class lesson. Review your notes, the textbook material again, and do exercise examples found in the book on your own as much as possible BEFORE looking at the solutions. Videos are best used as supplementary or possible alternatives. Do not use them as replacements for in-class lecture & demonstrations.
     
  4. May 10, 2016 #3
    Thanks for the input. I have one more question. Im considering learning the entire course in the off season( say like summer). But what im afraid of is, what if i teach myself the concepts incorrectly?(If that's possible...) And the way i learned the concept is not the way my instructor wants me to learn it.Do you think it's actually beneficial to at least i have the material in my head already and so the semester is pretty much like perfecting?
     
  5. May 10, 2016 #4

    symbolipoint

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    Studying the entire course ahead of time is a good idea, or maybe very good idea. The risks are not finishing the course by the end of summer and not learning as well. The benefit is that when you study the same course in the normal term, you are seeing the material for the second time, and so you may learn better than if you only went through once.
     
  6. May 11, 2016 #5

    CalcNerd

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    One other suggestion. Do the example problems or set them up as you read them ie start them as they are presented and then follow how the book solves them. If you have no clue, well, THAT is what the example problem was for. Before you move on, solve another problem from your problem set in the back of the chapter most like the example problem (or assigned problem of your homework). Then read onto the next problem-Repeat. Be an active reader / problem solver. When you finish the chapter, look over all your homework problems and resolve any that you feel unsure of (without just re-copying, resolve without looking at your previous solutions).
    .
    Do any remaining homework and ask the professor or TA questions at THAT point, if you cannot understand what you covered. You might also buy an REA study guide in the subject. Schaum's may also help (I like the REA problem books much better, myself). These solutions workbooks are not available for every subject, so if you cannot find an appropriate substitute, find another textbook by another author so that you can have two explanations and example problems to review.
    .
    Again, I emphasize, BE AN ACTIVE READER!!! Do not simply read the material from start to finish and then think you can start solving problems. Solve the problems as they are presented! Think while you READ.
     
  7. May 11, 2016 #6
    I think finding the right self study routine is a method of trial and error. Everyone has their own habits that work for them. These are just some suggestions that have worked for me, perhaps they could work for you as well.

    I second CalcNerd's suggestion. Block out the solutions and attempt the example on your own. If you find you don't where to begin, take a peek at the next step, but don't just jump to the solution. Same goes for if you use a solutions manual, never just look up the solution. It's better to make a strong attempt at a problem and be wrong than to just look straight at the answer.

    Another good tactic is to create your problems. It sounds tedious and boring, but I find it really challenges your understanding of the material. This works good with a partner - try to draw up a few challenging problems for each other, attempt to solve them without independently, and then discuss them afterwards.

    I tend to draw up my notes after I've become comfortable in solving most, if not all of the problems, and I write them in manner like I am trying to teach the material to somebody else. Think of it like you're trying to prepare for a lecture. I feel that being able to explain concepts to others in your own words helps to understand the material better. While taking good notes can help, your emphasis should certainly be on tackling problems.
     
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