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How do I think critically?

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by ZaneKaiser, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. ZaneKaiser

    ZaneKaiser 2+ Year Member

    Feb 14, 2013
    How can I prepare myself for those types of questions on test that require you to approach a problem in a novel way? I feel as if I was born with the gift to memorize, I'm good at it. I aced all my biology classes, yet have a huge struggle with physics and organic chemistry.

    The way I approach these classes is to do every single practice problem I can get my hands on (which I feel is just me memorizing the steps to every varying problem), but if the professors puts a question on the test that isn't similar to something I've done before, I am completely lost. I try to understand the concepts really well, I go over them and test myself on them, but I still cannot get these questions correct.

    This has been a problem all my life, I have a friend who is insanely good at riddles and brain teasers, he can work them out very quickly. I approach those same riddles or brain teasers and I can't for the life of me be able to make heads or tails of it, no matter how much time I'm given. But I can remember every single detail of a topic or book and be able to recite it with ease.

    Is this just how my brain is wired? Was I born with the ability to be insanely good at memorization, at the expense of critical thinking and conceptual understanding?
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2014
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  3. cacajuate

    cacajuate 5+ Year Member

    Aug 27, 2012
    You sure you are actually understanding the concepts and not just memorizing the practice problems? Work on those problems WITHOUT the solution manual and try to have that a-ha moment, I bet the concept will stick a lot better.
  4. gnleff

    gnleff D4 2+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2013
    If you want to practice critically thinking, understand the question, when you get the answer understand why the answer the way it is. Such as in organic chemistry.

    When you dissect the answer and understand how the answer came to be, you can eliminate other possible answers when you are taking an exam. In critically thinking scenarios, knowing the answer is different than finding the answer.
    wildzodiac likes this.
  5. wildzodiac

    wildzodiac 2+ Year Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I'd like to chime in here for just a quite minute. Are you sure that you are actually learning? Or are you simply manipulating the system to get some decent grades? I don't mean that to sound harsh in any way what so ever, but I want to make it clear that memorizing isn't really the point of certain classes. To get your money's worth out of classes, (which I highly recommend you do,) you must strive to get that deep level of understanding of the material. When you are studying, understand WHY something is the way it is. Do not accept something as fact just because that is how we are conditioned.

    5+2 = 7: A monkey can memorize that. But why is the answer 7? Use that same thought process (albeit at a MUCH higher level of thinking,) are you are good to go. Again, understand WHY something is the way it is.

    One more thing, when you are studying, link things together. Try to see how lecture topics relate. You will see that everything is related.

    "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember, I do and I understand."
  6. Blake1e

    Blake1e 5+ Year Member

    May 18, 2012
    Thinking critically is an automatic process, youre always doing it. Insanely good memory goes hand-in-hand with critical thinking and conceptual understanding.

    Pretty much all of what the above posters said are on point. Here is a practical tip you can do right away:

    Make your own practice test. Multiple choice, fill in blank, short answer, essay etc. As you write your practice questions you will have a hard time Not understanding the material, its practically inevitable that you will get everything. When youre done writing it, put the answer key away and actually do the practice exam once or twice to reinforce the material. Give it a try, I used to be like you but without your memorization skills; my grades shot way up by doing this.

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