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Study habits

  1. Aug 3, 2005 #1
    hey everyone

    Im currently looking at my white board. I can see ghosts of Riemann sums not fully erased. I call them ghost because they scared me yesterday when I almost forgot how to work one! Wait I think I see something emerging from the dark depths of my book shelf....oh my godsh its my calculus book

    now that i have your attention

    Im worried about the load of homework I will have next semester with calc 2, and physics

    can anyone recommend any good study styles or strategies that work well, and how many hours a day could one expect studying for these classes??

    by the way Mathwonk, Matt grime, HallsofIvy, Hurkly, and all the other ridicoulsly smart people here I demand to know your study strategies and dont say "practice"

    thanks :shy:
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2005 #2
    More or less 0.3 hours a day.

    In fact, I'll have to increase my rate.

    I suggest studying until you master the subject.
  4. Aug 3, 2005 #3

    for phys II, the prof made us read the chapter the next day's lecture was going to be about. VERY effective. you get the material first in the reading, then you get it reinforced by the lecture, plus you have an idea of what questions you'll need to be asking and what problems you'll have to solve.

    i suggest reading as much as you can of the material before each lecture. with math classes this is a bit difficult (for people who aren't comfortable reading math texts, that is). in this case, the reverse may help--go to lectures, then read over the same material. and, of course, doing AT LEAST every assigned problem--as many as you need to get the concept down.

    solutions manuals are recommended...

    try these and mix and max styles until you get what suits you best.
  5. Aug 3, 2005 #4
    Just make sure you USE the textbook for reading material, and NOT for just pracice problems!!!!! Lots of ugrads do not use their textbook for reading and just rely on lecture notes and practice problems.

    Also, I'd say study for maybe 1 hour for each of subject per day, and you should be good. What's really important is that you come up with a definitive study schedule and stick to it, to discourage procrastination. Procrastination is the biggest killer fo undergrads.
  6. Aug 3, 2005 #5
    to tell you the brutal truth, i never did the readings in the text for any class. it just put me to sleep. i just pull all nighters before the test and cram. it always seems to work (although profs. don't want to admit it does).
  7. Aug 3, 2005 #6

    I think im gonna start reading my physics book right now!
  8. Aug 3, 2005 #7
    It works but you don't walk away knowing much, no matter how much you tell yourself and others otherwise....

    this is also why your profs don't want you to know it works....

    Don't forget that one of the main reasons you're in college is to learn.

    Not to sound insulting, but I don't think this is good advice to give an undergrad, if you meant it to be advice at all....
  9. Aug 3, 2005 #8
    It is definitely doable. I took those same 2 courses over the summer. One was a 6 week course the other was a 10 week course. In the physics class we covered 3 chapters a week, so we had 1 test a week, for a total of 18 chapters. I studied every single day though. Most of my day was spent in class/driving to class though, so that made it harder. I didn't read the entire book of course, I just didn't have time, but I worked through enough examples to make sure I understood all the concepts.

    Since you are taking it during a regular semester, I am sure you will do excellent! Just keep up with the work and you should do great. Go in with a positive attitude and try to understand everything. If you work on both classes every single day, you should do really well, probably a high A in both courses. Of course very few people have that much desire. Goodluck!
  10. Aug 3, 2005 #9
    I must quote you, these are really golden words!!!

    Anyway it is my opinion that studying at home is much less productive
    than having lectures (of course both are necessary).

    Try to exploit it completely.
  11. Aug 3, 2005 #10
    Although I respect gravenewworld because he is a smart guy, I have to disagree with ihs advice here. I concede that the super-cram method might work for some people, but I assure you that you don't want to put yourself through that. As it has been pointed out as well, the point of undergrad is to learn, not to cram to do well on an exam; you won't learn anything from the cramming because it's cramming - not learning. Learning steadily and cumulatively is the best way, I think, rather than having a fragile hold on everything at once, it's better to have a firm hold on some of the topics.
  12. Aug 3, 2005 #11
    OH CONTRAIRE! I remember having fun last semester learning all of glycolysis, the TCA cycle, and oxidative phosophorylation in 1 sitting. Needlesss to say I :zzz: :zzz: :zzz: :zzz: for 16 hours the next night.
  13. Aug 3, 2005 #12
    Au contraire
  14. Aug 3, 2005 #13
    agreed. slow and steady wins the race, as it were... if by "race" we mean "long term retention of the material."

    and taking calc II and physics I (i presume?) is TOTALLY able to be done, and done well, at that!

    in addition to the other non-cramming advice in this thread, make sure to use office hours! during my first semester i didn't use them very much, since my phys professor answered questions via email (another resource you should use, if the professor allows for this!). but during the second semester, i'd go to office hours a few times a semester for phys II, diff eq, and biology whenever there was a homework problem i was stuck on, a concept i forgot to ask about/didn't realize i had a problem with until after lecture, wanted to talk about academic things.

    after all, the profs hold office hours for a reason! they want students to use'em.
  15. Aug 3, 2005 #14
    i guess he didn't get around to crammin' for french... :biggrin:
  16. Aug 3, 2005 #15
    First: precision.
  17. Aug 3, 2005 #16
    Hmm--my study method is just read/ponder until you intuitively+mathematically (intuimatically) understand the concept/procedure.

    *Assuming time is not significantly restricted on your tests, just focus on the understanding.
    *Assuming time IS significantly restricted on your tests, focus on the PRACTICE as well.
    Personally, I never really focus on the practice (I'm a Study guy, not a homework guy! Thus my HS teachers hate me!) unless I'm studying challenging material, in which case I need not only to understand the material, but also do the problems extremely quickly.
    *Noslen, do not worry about the homework load...well, that is, only if your teacher doesn't consider homework as part of your class grade. Rather, focus on mathematical-intuitive understanding, and your skills. If you need like 1/2/3 problems for practice, go ahead and do those problems; seriously, Don't waste your time on tedious work if you understand the subject and are skilled with it.
    However.....if you really do need several hours of practice just to understand the subject/concept, well, just do the work i guess.
  18. Aug 3, 2005 #17
    This is very similar to my strategy. Good advice! :tongue:
  19. Aug 3, 2005 #18

    oh, right, this reminds me of my calc III class.

    it was--supposedly--an honors course. *eye roll*

    anyway, the professor was really unorganized with his homework assignments. i'm not exaggerating, one of his assignments was problems 1-62 for a particular section.

    *double eye roll*

    so what i did was i picked and chose problems to tailor more to my needs. if i saw a problem and identified it as just a simple plug and chug one, or one that i could solve in a line, i'd just do one or two (either on paper or in my head!). then i'd get to the harder problems and do as many as i felt necessary.

    in other words, unless your homework is collected and graded for completeness (like my complex variables class was!), you can "customize" the homework. takes a bit of practice and knowledge of what you can and can't do, or rather need practice or don't need practice with.

    yeah, in my calc II class, i started to trim the assignments down once i wised up, if i remember correctly.

    but again, it's MUCH safer to do more problems than you need than doing fewer!

    (and i have to disagree with the above posters. knowing the concepts is absolutely essential and your primary task--however, you need to prove to yourself that you would be able to solve problems related to those concepts well-before test day, when it will actually count. or if you see a problem in REAL life, when it will REALLY count! :biggrin: )
  20. Aug 3, 2005 #19
    For both, read the texts before class, and review the day after class (or sooner, whatever works for you).

    For Math, do every practice problem your instructor assigns you. There is simply nothing better than repetition for nailing the mechanical part of it. And read the actual text, and work over any broken-down problems it gives in the text.

    For Physics, work on really grasping the concepts before hitting the problems too hard. It's nothing but wasted time if you try to Math your way through the work before you really "get" the Physics. Thinking about applications of the Physics to everyday objects can really help with the memorisation of concepts, especially if you assign a different, distinct object to every concept.
  21. Aug 3, 2005 #20
    Studying the concepts is nice, but the really essential thing is that you can do the problems. Problems can be unintuitive sometimes (or have multiple ways to solve) and the only way to figure out that stuff is through practice. Just because you know F=ma doesn't give you all of mechanics, for instance. Those shortcuts and best procedures are a matter of practice and there really isn't any way to just pick that stuff up by looking at the book. Examples help, but they really are no substitute for doing it yourself -- and just as importantly, knowing you can do it yourself.
  22. Aug 3, 2005 #21
    yes! this is great advice.
  23. Aug 3, 2005 #22

    I took physics one this summer and I am finishing Calc 2 as we speak. The schedule is challenging since so much material must be covered in a much shorter time frame as explained by Eratosthenes. I would advise that you read ahead. I believe it was my Biology professor that told me on average a person retains about 40% the first time they see knew material and like 60% after the second or third time. She always advised reading the material so that we could come to class and absorb much more. I found out that if you really pay attention in class and if you have an extrememly good professor, you can cut down on some of your studying time. However it's hard to tell exactly how much time you will need to devote before you actually get in the class and start working. Just stay positive and willing to work until you succeed.
  24. Aug 3, 2005 #23
    I don't know if you're referring to me in particular, but I said
    Without the mathematical+intuitive understanding, the homework is just memorization of some procedures/systems, requiring little or no thought; also, some might get upset/bored and wonder why they need the material anyway.
    *But anyway, I mentioned "if you understand the subject and are skilled with it"-->and by "skilled with it" I meant able to solve problems quickly-->or as quickly as demanded by the exam.

    Ahh yes...my many classmates (I'm a HS junior) who got A's/B's in Physics B simply by memorizing formulas and relying on the full page of notes the teacher allows on midterms and finals (yes, the teacher was lazy, and passed some students b/c of "hard work" and "neat notebooks" regardless of how much they didn't learn/understand. She sorta disliked me b/c I got A's on tests but barely did any work). I can only imagine..confident with such grades, they're (like 60% of the class!) moving into AP Physics-which is Physics C for my HS--with their latest math class being 'trig' or "advanced algebra", which for my school is just prep for trig. You're right: F=ma does NOT give you all of mechanics :approve:

    Now Stephan hoyer, I'm sorry--I know this was NOT what you were talking about. But I see what you mean--->in my CalcII class, I "intuitively" understood integrals and the procedures to solve them, but it was PRACTICE that allowed me to solve integrals in a minute or less. Yes, harder integrals may take more seconds...but I see what you mean. That, you see, is why I said:
    (Sorry--well I'm sorry about sounding prudish. Really, I'm only in HS :frown: I know that you guys have much more experience than me (and different as well-->college [itex] \ne [/itex] high school! ))
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2005
  25. Aug 4, 2005 #24
    I do believe that having an intuitive and mathematically rigorous understanding of physical concepts is the most important aspect of your education, but being able to work physics problems quickly and efficiently is nearly as important. However, sometimes I focus too much on the concepts and the derivations in the textbook and too little on HOW to work various problems and I do too little practice problems at times. this means I have to spend a lot of time on exams THINKING about how to work the problems since I don't immediately know how to do it when I see it, and this is not good at all. Sometimes this causes me to get "B"s in certain classes, which is not good for someone aspiring to attend graduate school in physics.

    From now on I am going to try and work more practice problems!! However, developing a conceptual understanding is still the most important thing!
  26. Aug 4, 2005 #25
    Im already planning a strategy for next semester. I think im gonna spend more time reading the books and thinking about the laws and theorems; Rather than working problem after problem like last semester.

    Great feedback! :tongue2:
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