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Best ways to study?

cmrocks

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I know that a good portion of the board has gone to or is currently in college. I was hoping I could get some helpful hints from those who have done this all before. I'm in my first year of college and due to registering late and changing majors, I have kind of a mess of courses. This semester, I'm taking microeconomics, intro psychology and two applied science courses which are graphing and computer related. My new major is now geology and my minor is going to be economics.

This semester hasn't been too bad because I'm really only focusing my efforts into econ and psyc since my two apsci courses are useless but it was too late to drop them. Next semester; however, I have two econ courses and two geology courses and that will require a lot more effort.

I goto my lectures and take notes while I'm there so that isn't a problem. Other than that, I read through the textbook, take notes from it and copy down all the definitions that are highlighted in the chapter. For econ, I also have to do quite a few study questions. I'm finding that this takes way too long and I don't think I will be able to do it for 4 courses next semester. I won't have enough time. My econ teacher has a manual of his notes that he goes over in the lecture which we all had to buy. My psyc teacher posts what she goes over in the lecture on the web.

What should I be doing? Is it usually enough to just read the textbook chapters and not take notes on them and then spend more time studying what the teacher presents in class? I find that I remember things better if I write them down. It also feels as if I'm just copying down whats in the text and I would be better off spending my time doing something else.

If anyone could give me some ideas on the most efficient ways to study, that would be great.
 

drizzt3117

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Everyone eventually develops their own study habits that work for them. Personally I'd suggest using some index cards and making them for reading from the text, trying to focus on salient and important points (especially those emphasized in lecture) and also to take detailed lecture notes and study from them, as well as your note cards. Taking full notes from your text may be a waste of your time, as you've suggested, but focusing on what's important will be helpful IMHO.
 

DNW

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Originally Posted by DucatiCole
What should I be doing? Is it usually enough to just read the textbook chapters and not take notes on them and then spend more time studying what the teacher presents in class? I find that I remember things better if I write them down. It also feels as if I'm just copying down whats in the text and I would be better off spending my time doing something else. If anyone could give me some ideas on the most efficient ways to study, that would be great.
Take notes in class, and write margin notes on your book. For harder classes, I recommend doing a mini-outline when you first read the material. Then, as you attend lectures, add them to your outline. Each chapter or topic should have your own notes, then supplemented by class notes. If you do it this way, it's easier to review at the end of the semester, and you don't have to spend much time revising/creating your outline. The key is to do this when you have time, i.e. during the semester, and only spend time reviewing and working on practice exams at the end of the semester. This has generally been my approach through my undergrad, and now through law school. Of course, I do this better now after years of practice; but the only real difference is I also buy commercial outlines for my classes, which I don't think are necessary for undergrad. Do what works for you. The worst thing you can do is following somebody else's advice even when it doesn't work for your learning style.
 

cmrocks

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Thanks,

I definately like having notes that I have taken out of the textbook; they really helped me out on my midterms.

Maybe I should try taking text notes more efficiently and writing down what is important and leaving more out?
 

whodini

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Originally Posted by DarkNWorn
Take notes in class, and write margin notes on your book. For harder classes, I recommend doing a mini-outline when you first read the material. Then, as you attend lectures, add them to your outline. Each chapter or topic should have your own notes, then supplemented by class notes. If you do it this way, it's easier to review at the end of the semester, and you don't have to spend much time revising/creating your outline. The key is to do this when you have time, i.e. during the semester, and only spend time reviewing and working on practice exams at the end of the semester. This has generally been my approach through my undergrad, and now through law school. Of course, I do this better now after years of practice; but the only real difference is I also buy commercial outlines for my classes, which I don't think are necessary for undergrad. Do what works for you. The worst thing you can do is following somebody else's advice even when it doesn't work for your learning style.
I think every class is different so there isn't one set way of studying. I can't think of a class in high school, undergrad, or now in med school where I could compare the exams of one class to another. If you're completely lost my first piece of advice would to be see each professor at office hours and get a better sense of what to expect on exams, what's the main focus, test format, and general advice. Early on in college I was guilty of studying like crazy for the 1st exam and hoping that what I went over was what the teacher wanted. That's a horrible way to take a course because its inefficiency will take away any spare moment you have. As far as actual study methods, one of my anatomy professors recommended writing down what he said in lecture and then immediately go home to type the notes up in Word while speaking the notes aloud. It's not how I study, but scientifically it has a good basis based on many human and animal studies, several of which my psych professors headed. The more senses you get involved in learning, the better you'll be at remembering. Immediately reviewing material after seeing it for the first time helps to reinforce it in the long-term memory instead of leaving it to "evaporate" in the short-term memory. For most of the classes I have now, I write up an outline of what I learned in lecture that day. Four or five classes later, I've got a streamlined guide for my next exam and remember more than had I just written up a massive outline a week before the exam. The other problem with waiting till the end to write up a study guide is it'll burn you out writing up things which you may or may not remember as being very relevant, if at all. A few classes of doing that and you'll be reinforcing yourself to hate reviewing, writing up study guides, etc. Lastly, if you have access to a detailed enough syllabus for your class, it helps a lot to go over the required reading a day or two before the class. Don't stress out about trying to make sense out of everything, just get a taste of the concepts and perferrably mark down spots where you're completely lost so that you'll look to answer them in class.
 

Joffrey

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I would really recommend studying with groups. Fing those few kids in your class who seem to have their **** together and ask to work with them ahead of tests. I did that my final year and a half in all of my econ classes and aced them all, I wish I had done that through all 4 years. My gpa would easily be at least a half point higher
 

raley

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It differs for each person. Jodum recommends studying in groups, but when I do that I don't get anything accomplished. I would say the biggest factor in getting good grades is make sure that you know what to expect going into the class.

Read: know what the class is going to be like before you take it. I'm not saying find out who all the easy professors and take their classes, but you should ask around. There are some professors who are notorious for not knowing how to teach. Avoid their classes.

I've used this strategy pretty well so far. I research the classes I want to take extensively and find out what the teachers are like, how much homework they have, ask for syllabuses (i) beforehand from the profs, etc.

For instance, if you are a really bad self-starter then don't take a class that has only 2 tests. You will just slack off until the week before the test and then try to cram and be unsuccessful.

There is a class required for my major where all the teachers taught it just like that. I waited for 2 years and finally got a new prof that gave homework every week. Now I just do the homework, study an hour for the test and am golden.

Do your research before you sign up for a class so you know that the prof's teaching methods match up with your learning style.
 

Thomas

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I hated studying...In b-school it helped immensely when I could find examples that confirmed a theory. If you have case studies, or vignettes in your textbook, you'll benefit from reading those and picking them apart in terms of the relevant course material.

Lacking case studies, you can always turn to the current news and apply your coursework to the recent news. Take macroeconomics relative to oil prices, or pollution (EPA credits). The whole point for me was not simple recitation, but rather understanding and application. Once I understood a theory and could spot it in the news, I could move on to the next topic - which sometimes was related to the first one.
 

VKK3450

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STAY OFF OF STYLEFORUM!!!

I have spent a fair bit of my decision science time on the UCLA taser discussion thread tonight.

Seriously, I am just back in school after 5+ years. The internet can be a massive distraction. Put the laptop away when you need to focus. If you have to work on it for a paper, presentation, etc... unplug the network and shut off the wireless. Helps me immensely.

K
 

dtmt

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If you need to do memorization/flash cards, this program f'ing rocks: http://sourceforge.net/projects/mnemosyne-proj/ It uses a Leitner algorithm, meaning that it basically it drills you less often on cards you get right consecutive times. Which is nice, because it means you can have several hundred or thousand cards and only need to spend 20-30 minutes each day reviewing to keep them all memorized. I've been using it for several months and haven't had any problems so far....
 

Aaron

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Originally Posted by dtmt
If you need to do memorization/flash cards, this program f'ing rocks: http://sourceforge.net/projects/mnemosyne-proj/ It uses a Leitner algorithm, meaning that it basically it drills you less often on cards you get right consecutive times. Which is nice, because it means you can have several hundred or thousand cards and only need to spend 20-30 minutes each day reviewing to keep them all memorized. I've been using it for several months and haven't had any problems so far....
Wow, that's really cool. I passed that on to my sister who is studying for a psych exam. DucatiCole I can't offer you too much more than what has already been said. The biggest thing I found is that university, much like everything else, is a system. Eventually you find ways to work within it and be successful at it. A big part of first year is figuring out what is and is not important and how you can extract the most from the lecture, tutorial, and reading. Just by virtue of taking exams and writing paper you'll learn what you can discard and what will be important. For me it took failing my first Econ exam and getting a C+ on an essay to realize I couldn't study and write like I did in high school. You seem a lot more diligent than I ever was. Speaking of which the old adage is true, procrastination is like masturbation, in the end you're only ******* yourself. I'm a little ADD and still waste a lot of time procrastinating. I found when I had to study or write ripping my internet connection out or sequestering myself in a remote corner of the library helped me get things done. A.
 

acidboy

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find what works best for you, on different subjects/courses.

don't put off study for another time.

have a positive outlook and don't think of the subjects as something you just have to go through.

join study groups.

sleep good hours.
 

odoreater

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I used to just read the book 15 minutes before class (in college, in law school this strategy wouldn't work) and then just go and take notes during the class discussions. I would then review these notes an hour before any exam. That was pretty much how I did it, and it worked for me.

DISCLAIMER: My strategy is not for everyone, proceed at your own risk.
 

Matt

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OK the matt method - I got through college with 2 degrees and bought less than five textbooks the whole time, and still got pretty damn decent grades.... 1. take super super super detailed notes in lectures. I would walk out of lectures with like 10 pages written down. Then I would go to the bar
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2. come exam time, go back to your super super detailed notes and then refine them. Repeat until you have a whole class down to one page. Mine might go 10 pages, 5 pages, 2 pages, 1 page, and by the fourth rewrite, i knew it all. 3. take all papers in to the professor during office hours to "make sure I am on the right track" - this builds repoire (sp?) with him/her and gives him/her a little ownership on the document. Base papers on what the professor says in lectures, this way They Are Right in the eyes of the dude that reads them
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. Use references to pad out his opinions. I have also found that getting the professor to check over drafts of papers makes them less likely to single you out in lectures since they earmark you as one of the students that is interested in the topic. Thats it! No book purchases required, frees up beer money
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rdawson808

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Originally Posted by m@T
OK the matt method - I got through college with 2 degrees and bought less than five textbooks the whole time, and still got pretty damn decent grades....

But never learned the difference between "less than" and "fewer than".
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Here's the advice I put on my Econ 112 Principles of Microeconomics syllabus:

"Some brief advice on how to do well in this class (or any other, for that matter):

"¢ When you do not understand something, ask for help. That is the number one, simple reason people do poorly in any class"”they do not ask for help when they need it. I am available during office hours, as well as most other hours of the day. I can also be contacted via e-mail and the phone.
"¢ Study hard and start your work early.
"¢ After taking notes in class, at the earliest possible time rewrite those notes. This gives you the chance to write more neatly, insert any missing information, and note where you do not understand something. Simply re-reading your notes is not as good of a studying tool as rewriting your notes is. Your brain processes the information differently when you have to write it down.
"¢ Work all of the example problems available to you."

Really, the first one is very important. I hate to say it but every semester (including this one) I will have one student who ignores every "Come see me" I put on his/her homework or exam. They ignore every e-mail I send telling them to come talk to me. The pretend like nothing is the matter even after I email them and their advisor suggesting that they withdraw from the class because their grade is so bad they have little to no chance of passing the class. If only they would ask for help they would do so much better. I have years' of experience that tells me this.

Asking for help also separates the A students from the B students. B students generally get it. A students do to, but want to get it a little better. They are the ones that not only review everything from class but read bits of the chapter I don't tell them to read. They try to extend what we are doing to more complex situations (sure that's an indifference curve for "standard" goods, but what about for two perfect complements?).

I am also shocked by the number of students who start their homework at 11pm the morning before it is due. Or they start studying the night before an exam and email me at 10pm expecting me to answer.

After you have completed work, review it to make sure it makes freaking sense. Does the table match the graph? Why on the table did you tell me the firm's profit-maximizing quantity is 50, but on the graph you mark it at 60; or if you're in macroeconomics, why is consumption = 100 with the equations but 150 on the graph?).

Ugh, I could go on. I'm probably better at telling students how to not piss off their professors (here's one: edit your writing).


bob
 

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