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study habits?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by LupaCupcake, 05.05.12.

  1. LupaCupcake

    LupaCupcake

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    What are your personal study habits? What tools do you use to study? (such as flashcards, acronyms, textbook, Ipad apps etc...) Do you feel like you study enough?

    Just curious how others study in the non-trad group and what works for you.
  2. ShoTyme

    ShoTyme We're going STREAKING!!!

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    My study habits vary depending on what class I'm taking. I personally despise flashcards. Typically though, I read the required material before the class so that when the professor lectures, I can get a better understanding of any concepts that were sketchy during my readings. While I'm reading, I highlight new vocabulary in yellow, and major concepts in blue. This makes it easier when/if I need to review and reinforces these concepts as I go. For more problem based classes like physics, I just make sure to do conceptual problems to ensure understanding. Mostly though, I take my studying very seriously. To me it's like a job. I work at it nearly everyday. That I think is the key.
  3. LUCPM

    LUCPM

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    I don't have any particular study habit but I usually make my own, condensed notes for each class and use them whenever I can.

    Taking this one step further, I will scan all my notes into pdf files (I just purchased a high-speed, duplex scanner) and and load them on my tablet to read while I'm waiting in line or something like that.
  4. FrkyBgStok

    FrkyBgStok DMU c/o 2016

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    I drive a semi so I would record my notes and listen to them over and over again. i also utilized flash cards. As a parent that is always running around, a chunk of flashcards and a plastic bag is something I could throw in my pocket and take anywhere and pop out. great for really quick study sessions while I wait in the parking lot for my kid to come out of school, or in line at a drive thru, or anywhere.
  5. LaEsponja

    LaEsponja

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    How do you record your lecture? I'm interested in doing this for my summer chem class but don't think I have the storage space I'd need on my mac.

    I use flashcards. Oddly enough I'd never even considered reading ahead of time until I saw it on here- but it's been a long time since I've been in school and I wasn't exactly overly motivated back then. I also consider it my job and plan it into my schedule.
  6. FrkyBgStok

    FrkyBgStok DMU c/o 2016

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    i had one prof upload to itunes. other than that, i bought a voice recorder and sat up front. you can get one for $60 that you link to your comp. If it was a class that was a pain, i would take good notes and then reread my notes into my voice recorder.
  7. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Depends on the class. For bio classes I just read the text book a couple of times, more times if a specific concept is difficult for me, and am good to go. For physics I had to do a lot of problems and annotate what I did/why I did it sometimes. Gen chem was the same way, but after retaking it semesters I found that it was one of my strongest non-bio subject. Organic was a lot of problems as well. Besides Bio, I have really learned to stay away from actively trying to memorize things (e.g flash cards) because I learn better by doing. For example, I can do 5-10 problems and have the 10 required equations memorized, but if you gave me flash cards with those 10 equations on them, I could probably stare at them for 5 hours and still not know them. The only thing I can rote memorize is bio.

    Currently I'm enrolled in an A&P 2 class where we only meet for lab and are on our own for lecture. We have a class text book and also recorded lectures from the teacher. A few other people have mentioned recording lectures and listening to them whenever they can and I can say that it works for me. Audio is really great for me and I am glad I found this out before starting medical school because if my med school lectures aren't recorded, I will definitely be buying a good quality recorder and bringing it with me to class.
  8. notbobtrustme

    notbobtrustme Crux Terminatus

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    I take good notes in lecture and read the relevant chapters in the book. The key is not letting the material pile up. I typically studied 1-2 hours a day in undergrad.
  9. Ellipsis1104

    Ellipsis1104

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    For orgo, I downloaded lectures from iTunes U, and listened to them as I drove to and from school everyday (I have an hour-long commute). Orgo is mostly about doing practice problems, but I've always needed a good conceptual understanding of what I'm trying to work through, so the extra lectures helped me. I would also re-listen to the lectures for particular chapters I wasn't solid on, right before exams.

    If anyone else would find this helpful, I liked these two profs:

    Marietta Schwartz (orgo I only; podcast only)
    Sean Hicky (orgo I & II; podcast and video; downloadable study guides)

    Marietta Schwartz speaks much more slowly than Sean Hicky, and she spends more time talking through concepts and background. Sean Hicky, however, was more helpful in application aspects -plus, his teacher style is one where you feel he's studying with you. He asks a lot of questions as he teaches. If you play along, its more like active studying than just listening to lectures.
  10. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville Gold Donor

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    My study habits are similar to the others posted. the other thing to mention is the frequency of study. I do much better if i study material the same day rather than in one huge sitting.

    This can mean reading on the material the night before or shortly after class. the night before is best for me as it drives home the concepts that the prof is looking to emphasize.
  11. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Yea, and going through the material more than once and not all on the same day really helps me. So if I have a test on Monday I'll try to have gone through it once by Friday (at least the important stuff), then another run through spanning Sat/Sunday.
  12. realmeaning

    realmeaning

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    [​IMG]

    Can't stop looking at your avatar.
  13. startingover84

    startingover84

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    I haven't taken a class since 2006, but here is what worked for me in college. It's also what I plan to do once I start again in August.

    I know my learning type and it's mechanical/auditory. I have to do both. When I read, I say the words aloud in my head. I probably read slower than others, but so be it.

    I make sure to complete the reading assigned before the lecture. If I find the reading hard to absorb, I either highlight important parts (not the whole book) or create a hand-written outline.

    During the lecture, I take notes in a notebook. Although I type over 100 wpm, I never type notes during a lecture. I always use a pen and paper. If I have a question, I write it in the notes in a different color and look it up later when reviewing.

    After lecture, I try to review the notes I just took to make sure they make sense.

    At the end of each week, I review all of my notes and look up the answers to any questions that haven't made themselves apparent.

    Studying for exams simply consists of reviewing my notes and (if I highlighted) skimming the textbook.
  14. NightGod

    NightGod

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    I've been lucky, between taking notes (by hand, I found that typing it out didn't work for me) in lecture and doing the homework, I haven't had to do much study beyond reviews for cumulative finals. Expecting that to change in orgo next semester, though.
  15. realmeaning

    realmeaning

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    Great question. Thanks for posting.
  16. rguil15

    rguil15

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    Something I did coming back to school this spring was to find several resources describing study methods/methodologies and compile and condense them into something that I thought would work for me. I then took that one sheet and as the semester went on, I emphasized the ones that worked for me and crossed off the ones that did not.

    I put probably 2 days of work into researching various study methods, but the dividends were enourmous. I ended up with a 4.0 this semseter, complete with a 104% in O-Chem and a 103% in Biology, I made it look easy, but really all I did was study efficiently and effectively.

    The best starting point I found was the iTunes U series done by Penn State called "The Big Change". Tons of helpful students and professors giving their strategies up. People pay money to find these little nuggets of gold that are right there for free if you're willing to put in the time to watch the videos. I pulled probably 3 or 4 main principles that I could use from that series.

    People learn differently though, you need to figure out how you learn. For example, I'm a textbook learner. I need to know the concepts and principles inside and out before I'm ready and willing to apply them. The only way I get anything out of my teacher's lecture is to have pre-read the relevant chapter, made a solid outline of what I thought were the main, applicable, points, worked all the example problems, and then brought this outline to class with me and amended them with whatever the prof. covered. If not, I just sat there thinking about how I really don't know what the hell he/she is talking about and got little out of the lecture.

    With facts based classes like Biology, the idea for me that worked was LEARN. It's just facts, you have to learn them inside and out, read critically and ask questions. However you want to do that.

    With Chemisty/O-Chem, what I did in Biology absolutely will not work. You HAVE to work problems, work every problem you can get your hands on. Esp O-Chem is about problem solving skills (once you've understood the basic principles of course). Leading up to an exam I was usually somewhere between 200-400 problems worked. It's really not that much, O-chem problems are short but I wanted to walk into an exam with the idea that the prof could throw anything at me and chances are I'd seen it before or seen something like it. And even if I hadn't, I'd developed the problem solving skills necessary to get it, and get it right.
  17. startingover84

    startingover84

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    Thanks for the tip re: The Big Change. It looks very useful. I'm going to watch it this weekend. :)
  18. NightGod

    NightGod

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    My personal learning style got the most results from making sure I attended every single lecture (I think I missed a total of 4 days in two years) and then doing the homework. Especially in conceptual classes like physics, I found that digging into the homework and then going back through the text book to study the relevant concepts and learn how to apply them to solve those problems ended up being what really drove them home for me. Things also got better when I talked with the professor and mentioned some studies I had read that suggested it might be better if we did half-day lecture/half-day problem solving rather than our existing trend of two days lecture followed by a day of problem solving. I was fortunate enough to have a teacher that was willing to at least try different styles of teaching and it seems like the entire class started struggling a bit less after that (of course, the flip side was that we usually ended up with having a lot more homework since we rarely got through all of the problems he thought were relevant to the current topics >.<).

    Classes like Calc are a lot more rules-based, so the homework usually ended up being more of a matter of repetition for me. For classes like Micro/Macroecon, usually just listening to the teacher in lecture was enough to drive home the information enough to get 90+ on the tests.

    Ask me again in a year if you want to know how Biology and Orgo worked out for me ;)
  19. realmeaning

    realmeaning

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    Rguil15-- Just watched all of "The Big Change" and that thing is a goldmine. A lot of it is intuitive stuff, but priceless. I found myself thinking, 'I wish I'd seen this before undergrad,' but I probably wouldn't have done it anyway. Damn, some of those students on the video have their **** together.

    Btw, what other sources did you look at to compile your info? I'm especially interested in science-specific study tips. I've been Googling, and anything you have to add would be great. : )
  20. reidjones

    reidjones

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    For me, I would read the chapter before it was covered in class. Like others have said above. I also highlight key words and concepts, and I also make a note of what I don't fully understand. I tend to only use flashcards for remembering definitions. Also, don't be timid if you don't understand a concept, and ask questions. But also, don't be one of those people who ask too many questions lol.
  21. rguil15

    rguil15

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    Great! Glad you found it useful. I felt the same way, most of the points made I just sat there thinking "duh" however I did not do most of the things those teachers and students suggested my first time in undergrad and it showed.
    Some of the stuff worked for me, other things weren't a good fit, there all lots of variables to work through for each person.

    The other major resource I used was actually a post here on SDN but unfortunately I no longer have it book marked. It was a thread, several pages long, and people where giving up their study strategies. I used it just like the videos, took a few gold nuggets and added them to my short little compiled list to use for the semester. Try searching here and see if you find it. If I can find it I'll update this post with the link.
  22. ccrone

    ccrone

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    Study habits:

    Work hard, understand concepts. Remember that 2 hours of effort will produce a solid 'A', but 8+ hours will be needed for a perfect score (lesson: the law of diminishing returns applies; the extra 6+ hours are wasted when 2 will do just fine).

    Night before exam:

    1) Rest.
    2) Order Papa John's Pizza (guilty pleasure)
    3) Watch a silly movie (mocumentaries are awesome)
    4) Decompress (bonus points if great sex is involved)

    Day of exam:
    Take a dozen pencils, extra erasers, and a watch. Keep telling myself that I know the material and will do just fine.
  23. rguil15

    rguil15

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    Something else I just remembered. Different schools have differing degrees of difficulty. Just because you have an A, a 100% or a 105% in a class doesn't mean you really know the material, some professors just have low standards. It's up to you to "learn the material" regardless of how well you are doing on your exams. This is a frustrating reality for me.
  24. wholeheartedly

    wholeheartedly Moderator

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    I think learning HOW to study is definitely the biggest thing. Quality over Quantity is very important. Of course that's different for everyone too. In undergrad the first time it was mostly read or skim the chapter, then review notes. In problem solving classes it was working problems. If I had trouble it was more reading, just putting in more time. That wasn't necessarily a bad strategy for me, but I'm a very visual and active type learner and just adding more hours wasn't giving me a good return. I didn't have the best attention span either. I tended to zone out reading and what I'd read two paragraphs ago would go buh-bye pretty quick.


    In undergrad the next time I went and talked to someone about study habits. She was a bit perplexed since I was getting good grades, but I wanted to be more efficient.

    So I made a really minor change in how I took notes, not so much what I took down as I think I tend to take pretty good notes. Just how I organized my notebook layout. Then I tried to make my reading more active either drawing diagrams or taking summary notes, just so I stayed on task. I also took more frequent breaks.

    For the problem based courses, it's still doing problems. The cool thing now, though, is that if I get stuck and don't understand something I can usually go pull up a resource on the web that explains it in a different way that makes sense to me and if I run out of problems before I feel comfortable, I can usually find more somewhere.

    For courses like medical micro where I had to memorize 200 some odd organisms, diagnostic tests for each of them, symptoms, and diseases they cause I drew classification trees to break things into groups that made sense so I could visualize everything, keep it organized, and just kept doing over it again and again until I could draw it in my sleep.

    Another big thing that keeps things efficient is that you might be able to get away with memorizing a bunch of facts, but the more you understand conceptually, the less you need to memorize so it becomes more efficient usually to understand stuff. I took several classes, one especially, where my classmates where taking at least twice as many notes as I was. They were so busy trying to scrawl down every detail the instructor said that they missed the big picture. I had half as many notes, but was able to sit with my pencil still while getting the main point and writing that down, with a few brief details to trigger my memory of whatever story he used to illustrate the point. It's a hard balance to strike, but a very important one to figure out.

    Back to micro, my study partner was struggling to try to memorize each individual organism and the facts about each one. I suggested she memorize things about them in groups, and also instead of trying to remember that organisms a,b,c,d,and e are oxidase positive and f was negative, that maybe she should just focus on the exceptions. So just remember that f was negative, but the rest of the group was usually positive. She did a lot better after that.

    I've found studying with people, and teaching/quizzing each other also works really well for me, provided we can a.) stay on topic b.) it's with people you work well with that take the task seriously and c.) strawberries and fruit dip are involved (ultimate brain snack I swear ;) )

    The last thing was my summary sheets. When I would review I would note the key points that I absolutely knew I'd be tested on, took really brief notes on things I was comfortable with, then more detailed explanations of things I needed more time with. Then I'd go through that, review and explain things to myself or draw out diagrams for the topics to see what I knew about it. After that I'd and pare it down again, leaving just the blatantly obvious test topics and stuff I was struggling with. I'd just keep working with that, reviewing and paring it down.
  25. FutureSunnyDoc

    FutureSunnyDoc like a room without a roof Bronze Donor

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    Predicting test questions and picking out what's important to study instead of studying everything is the single most valuable skill for a premed with a heavy science courseload IMO. I'm finally developing a better sense of this instead of wasting precious time reviewing concepts the professor will never test on since he didn't spend much time on it in class.

    It's totally essential for a class like organic, especially if you're a masochist and take it on 6 weeks, lol.:laugh: You gotta be able to narrow your focus!
  26. rguil15

    rguil15

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    I've heard this called "Studying for the test". I wonder though, does this approach come back to bite one when they are preparing for the MCAT?
  27. realmeaning

    realmeaning

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    @ Rguil-- So true. My gen chem class at community college (the only CC pre-req I'm taking) is a dire reality of this. Also, thanks for your previous response.

    @Wholeheartedly-- very helpful.

    A couple points:

    --As was mentioned, memorizing or understanding something is made infinitely easier (and some would say only made possible) by incorporating it into the framework of pre-existing knowledge. Even facts that seem to ask to only be memorized will be better recalled if you understand them and are able to explain them, as opposed to just being able to recite them. Also, at least as far as the science pre-reqs are concerned, I could get by in HS with just memorizing stuff and applying some common sense (and I went to a rigorous private high school). My college chemistry class (not the one I'm taking at a CC) at a top university kicked my butt because I had to actually understand stuff, and I was spending too much time (inefficiently) to do that. Which brings me to my next point.

    --Several sources (including college science profs) I've done research on have recommended to NOT read the science chapter assigned before the class, and only do it afterwards. This sounds like heresy, and even now I'm a little doubtful, but I just might try it. Many sources recommend just skimming the chapter looking for keywords, definitions, headings, etc., to get the key points. This makes sense to me because whenever I'd read the chapter before class, I wouldn't get most of it anyway (either understand it the first time around or remember it afterwards), and would inevitably feel like I had to read the chapter again after class just to "get everything." Which brings me to my next point.

    --Perfectionists beware. You can't understand ALL of the material, so you have to filter. This is still something I'm not entirely convinced of and am trying to work on. Several college science professors have mentioned this as well.

    --Finally, explore new ways of taking notes and studying. For example, I just read the book "Concise Learning" by Krasnic, which explores the idea of image mapping or visual mapping instead of taking linear notes. I tried this yesterday on the first day of chemistry class and I actually really liked it. He says you should tie ideas together visually, just writing a few words or a phrase at a time. Don't clutter the visual map with definitions or complete sentences-- definitions can go at the bottom of the page. He recommends doing this when you read the outline of a chapter before class, and adding on to it during class, and then making a new one afterwards. He says when you totally know the material you should be able to recreate this map from memory. I really like this technique because I realized my way of thinking is completely non-linear, and making maps are just more compatible for taking notes as well as adding on new concepts, ideas, and definitions the professor explains later in the lecture. Also it's more creative and just more fun for me.

    --Other tip: don't highlight. Highlighting is more passive learning, whereas making notes in the margin is more active. I like this as well, as long as the notes I take during pre-read or post-read (pre- and post- referring to class discussion) aren't incredibly time consuming and it's not like re-writing the textbook.

    These are just a few tips that I've picked up from several sources, hope you find what works for you.

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