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Schools So how did you study at University?

  1. Dec 3, 2007 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I just started my first year at university and I was interested in getting some feedback from other students on how they studied. Now I would like some feedback from students who were non-grinders, so could study in very little time but still get excellent grades; such as A's.

    I am currently in the Science Program, thinking of studying Biotechnology so any advice on how t study mostly for biology and chemistry. Although I have a calculus course in my first year. Thanks for the feedback!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2007 #2


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    Generally, to get an A you need to study hard.

    The only other ways is to be a grinder or if you have a talent in the subject in question. If you're not going to grind (I suggest you don't) and you don't have a special talent, you'll need to study.

    You can maximize the study time by studying efficiently. I think the most efficient way to learn is to collaborate with friends about the subject and questions asked in class, but since no one EVER wants to talk about school materials that method is no good.

    The second most efficient way is to read before class, listen in class, and then do problems. Why is this so effective? Of course, it needs to be done right which I'll explain in a second. Lots of people do this, but do it all wrong! The first thing is to read the chapter/section before class and make personal efforts to trying to understand whats going on. That is if you don't understand a particular statement, try to re-read it, re-read previous sections that is related to it because a misunderstanding of a previous statement can cause current misunderstandings, search online for other examples if possible, and so. Don't even worry so much about writing notes because it's all there in the textbook and it won't runaway. If anything, you can write notes in the margins for comments that made things click and that way it's in the textbook and it won't runaway! Then go to class the next day or so, and pay attention. Of course, some profs. are not worth paying attention to because they simply write what's in the textbook and you just read that! Otherwise, pay attention and write notes ONLY ON THE EXTRA DETAILS!!! If the prof. talks about details that already mentionned in the textbook, don't write them down. That is just stupid because you LITERALLY already have those notes and now you're wasting time writing stuff down instead of paying attention. (I think this habit of students is leading profs. to write down textbooks on blackboards because students are really slow at learning because they never go to class semi-prepared and never even think during class.) Now, after you got the IMPORTANT notes ONLY, you can go home that night or the next night and do some problems. The problems will help refresh memory again, but also put the knowledge to work. You can say problems is a way of testing what you learned, but I think that's a bad way to look at it because you technically didn't even learn the material yet so thinking of being tested on something you haven't learned yet is kind of... stupid.

    The only time you get tested is when you do an assignment or midterm. They should not be the only source of problems you do. You should do some problems on your own.

    Note: I'm a slacker myself, but the above is probably the best combination I've seen. I personally never write notes... ever! I read my textbooks, I answer question and participate in class, I do my own questions and such. I literally never write notes, not even my own. However, I do write notes in the margins now. I'll write notes on exam reviews, but that's really it.
  4. Dec 3, 2007 #3
    I see, that is a pretty good system to study with! In High School I used to write a lot of textbook notes, but I have seen that in university I am getting more problems which take up my time, thus I was thinking of trying to find ways in which I don't have to write it!

    But I do agree, that studying more efficiently in less time is way better than studying with less concentration over a longer period of time. I was wondering if anyone is in a biology course, what kind of problems do you refer to? I mean should I be trying to answer the questions at the end of the chapter(s), and then if I don't know something go back and re-read again until I understand?
  5. Dec 3, 2007 #4


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    First thing, try attempting it again. Don't re-read the chapter or anything, just go over the parts you think should help.

    If that doesn't work...

    Second thing I would do, is go ask a TA or the prof. of the course (during office hours). Even if it's a dumb ass question, go ask. Saves you the time from trying to figure it out since you already spent time on it (that itself is already good!).

    Third thing, if the above isn't possible, come on here and ask!
  6. Dec 3, 2007 #5
    What is a grinder? Sorry to ask but I'm dying to know, heh.
  7. Dec 3, 2007 #6
    No problem aXiom. Basically a grinder is someone who studies for long periods of time with very little concentration (which is why they study for a very long period of time). They are usually the ones that complain about how much time they waste on studying and all and yet don't accept the fact that there are better ways.

    So in other words, if you study absentmindedly; as in doing other things while studying and you get distracted very quickly - which causes you do study longer your probably a grinder. Not saying it is a wrong way to study, but it isn't one of the best methods!

    Hope that explained it.
  8. Dec 7, 2007 #7
    I just read before the classes and do the work for them after I take a few hours break from school.

    I try to do the work on that day, and if I can't figure it out, then I consult the text. Then I resort to assistance if I still can't figure it out.

    This is as an applied math student in UC Berkeley.
  9. Dec 7, 2007 #8


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    This was the advice I was always given: go over lecture notes, and do the problems the same day as the lecure. I could never bring myself to follow this advice, however, but it seems sensible.
  10. Dec 7, 2007 #9
    That never seems to work, since for some reason my profs like to go over the material relevant to the homework mostly in the day or two immediately before it's due. This also renders office hours nearly useless when they could be very helpful. Yay!
  11. Dec 8, 2007 #10
    digest the concepts. that's it
  12. Dec 8, 2007 #11
    I think in university that is one of the most important ideas. I think also this is one of the issues first year students have when they enter university. It isn't like High school where you have all the luxury of time, and if you drop back a bit in your studies you can easily catch up. The other thing is that you can't study one thing, and then come back later hoping to understand/memorize it for real when test time comes; if you don't digest or learn something the exact same time your professor when over it, it will probably be a huge amount of work to do it later.

    In high school, I was all about taking notes and then when test time comes just go over it as many times as possible in order to be able to regurgitate the information later during the test. But in University I think it is different; if you don't memorize or understand something in first year, then second year will be even harder. You don't have the time, which is why you have to learn something on the spot, and you also don't have a lot of time to worry about notes, although most of the time professors go over the text and add or change certain things they want to.

    Like you said ice, digesting the concepts is all it is about university. If you don't do that in first year, second year is harder, and then third year is even harder.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2007
  13. Dec 8, 2007 #12


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    There are lots of good tips here. Rather than read the textbook before lecture, I recommend skimming the chapter that will be covered quickly. You'll have an idea of what's in the chapter, and how it's organized, and where the lecture is ultimately leading if you do this, but you don't waste your time reading details that might not make sense until better explained in lecture. Then, when you're in lecture, you know what the book has in it, and what it doesn't, so you can do what Jason suggested of just jotting down the new information, or the clarification of points you might find confusing, and not just trying to transcribe everything the professor says, which is really ineffective. After you have attended the lecture, THEN read the relevant sections thoroughly for the details you didn't get in your notes.

    I suggested in your other thread something called concept mapping. It's a way to actively ensure you're connecting ideas and making the relationships between concepts that you need to understand to really know a subject well. If you can't take the major concepts learned in a lecture, write them on a piece of paper, and draw lines connecting the concepts that are related, and write a few words on that line about HOW they are connected, you have knowledge gaps to fill, and will have pinpointed exactly what those gaps are. Some people can do this well without writing it out, but for others, it's an effective way to study actively instead of just staring at notes and getting nowhere.
  14. Dec 8, 2007 #13
    I kind of disagree with you. Not as in that you're wrong, but, that this method is not for everyone. For me, I've tried this and it does not work for me very well. It works much better for me to copy down the notes even if it given in the text book verbatim. And often study for midterm/exams I'll go over the notes and textbook and once more synthesize the material by writing down the major theorem(s) from each chapter.

    It's definatly a way that work for some very well and one that could really help some people, but others learn better by writing it down and seeing the material in their own ink.
  15. Dec 8, 2007 #14


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    Of course, no method will work for everyone, otherwise there would only be one style of teaching, and one style of studying!

    I agree with you in that it helps some students to see things in their own handwriting, but I agree with Jason in that it is a waste of time to take down such notes during a lecture. If you are one of the people who learns better from their own writing, then rewrite passages out of the textbook after the class, but by writing down things exactly as they are stated in the textbook during a class is, as Jason says, a waste of time: one could very easily miss the extra, subtle detail that the lecturer mentions that may not be included in the textbook.
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