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Writing Cram Sheets for Math/Science Classes

  1. Feb 5, 2008 #1
    Writing "Cram Sheets" for Math/Science Classes...

    I like to write "Cram Sheets" for Math/Science Class that include my common mistakes, important notes, and any extra information that my textbook does not accentuate or simplify. I like them to be neat and tidy (and hopefully digital so I can reproduce them) so I'm debating as to whether I should use MathCad, Mathematica 5.1, or TeXnic Center to type them up. Which one do you think would be most useful and efficient and why?

    Also, if you guys have any other strategies or tools you use to help you through your Math/Sciences courses, please share! Some examples include use of flashcards, voice recording, etc.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2008 #2


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    I do the exercises...
  4. Feb 5, 2008 #3
    I first write absolutely everything I know about the topic down on a sheet of paper, then fill in any blanks from the textbook. I then use this small note sheet to do lots of problems. I think spending your time digitizing everything might not be so productive-- although it'll look pretty.
  5. Feb 5, 2008 #4
    I've gotten into the habit of writing study sheets for all of my classes in LaTeX. I've found it particularly useful in my graduate-level math classes to at least write the statement of all of the theorems, and to include an outline of the proofs as needed. This works especially well if I update the sheet after every lecture so that, when exam time comes, my study sheet is already more or less finished.
  6. Feb 5, 2008 #5
    I tried this once, but then I realized that if I needed something to help me remember it, I didn't understand it.
  7. Feb 5, 2008 #6
    When exams allowed for 'cheat sheets', I'd go through the relevant chapters in the text and write down the equations that I couldn't remember AND thought were important. I'd also be sure to know what those equations meant. Often this would replace studying.
    It's important to be able to write down what you need without transcribing the entire book. Aim for concision.
  8. Feb 5, 2008 #7


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    For what it is worth, actually hand writing the sheets would benefit you more as it will help reinforce the material (i.e. you associate it in your brain better).

  9. Feb 6, 2008 #8
    I honestly feel that if you have done enough practice problems, the equations should just come naturally to you.
  10. Jul 8, 2008 #9
    Re: Writing "Cram Sheets" for Math/Science Classes...

    I like to start making review sheets a week before an exam. I will include all the major theorems, propositions and a good sketch of all their proofs. Any significant homework problems or problems I thought were important or that I had trouble with I will also put on my outlines. It is tedious, but it is studying. It'll take me 3-4 days to do this, and then I'll review it every for another 3-4 days when exam time rolls around. It has worked out pretty well for me, espcially since I do not have a great memory, I really need to hammer things home or make nice little connections that will allow me to re-derive a lot of results on the spot.
  11. Jul 8, 2008 #10
    Re: Writing "Cram Sheets" for Math/Science Classes...

    I guess everyone has different styles. I prefer the minimalist's approach to formula sheets, writing down only things that I think are essential. I think the take-home lesson is that everyone learns and remembers things differently, so you should experiment to see what works best for you.
  12. Jul 9, 2008 #11
    Re: Writing "Cram Sheets" for Math/Science Classes...

    I've often found that typing things up takes so much longer than just writing it out neatly that it's never worth it. Unless you have incredibly bad handwriting, I wouldn't bother with all the work it takes to type up a sheet, especially if you have a lot of equations or other odd text to manage.
  13. Jul 9, 2008 #12


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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Writing "Cram Sheets" for Math/Science Classes...

    Here is a thread from a while back about GPAs, where we got off into discussions about good study habits. See my post #23, and a very good post by kdinser at #36, among others.

  14. Jul 11, 2008 #13
    Re: Writing "Cram Sheets" for Math/Science Classes...

    One of my friends who is currently doing a master in math, is using LateX. But he is very proficient with the keyboard and LateX.

    As far as I understand you do not want review sheets but kind of like your own textbook where you could refer through your lifetime to check back on things that seems to be constantly slipping out of your brain am I right?

    If that is the case I really do not know, using LaTeX would be great, as a typesetting. But I am not sure about how you will categorize it. I too am struggling with the same thing you are struggling with but I just cannot categorize them neatly.

    I tried subject categorizing (CM, QM, EM, Thermo, Math Metods, Math Tricks...) But it just does not work you forget where you wrote a particular thing if too much time passes on. I tried categorizing them into specific books (griffiths EM, Hand AM) but then it became worse.

    I was handwriting them though, but you can make an index page with active links on LaTeX to refer them back when you need. (This idea just came to my mind and I will try that.)

    I hope this helps
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