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Students with 3.6 or higher GPA, what are your study habits?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by exilio, Mar 16, 2004.

  1. exilio

    exilio Jocular Junior
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    Hey all,

    I am about half way through my freshman year and my coursework is becoming increasingly challenging. I am fine with that and I expected it, but I just wanted to know what type of study habits you were employing to handle your load.

    So with that in mind could you list your courseload, time in class, and time out of class studying and any other techniques you use?

    Example:

    Winter Qtr:
    4 classes
    Statistics:
    5 hr/wk in class; 2 hr/night M-F
    for test I like to prepared 2 nights before

    Something like that. Or feel free to expund ont he info a different way. I am just looking for insight on how to allot my time. I know each student is different, but it never hurts to see how others do it.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. UCLAstudent

    UCLAstudent I'm a luck dragon!
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    For biology, the thing that has worked best for me is flashcards. That may not sound like such a "wonderful" idea, but I put so much effort into making and learning the cards. It takes me a long time to learn them (I make them throughout the quarter and start memorizing them 1-2 weeks before an exam). Trust me, it works. You do need to be able to apply the information, though, so be prepared for that.

    When I took chem/o-chem, calculus, and physics, I would do the assigned homework problems and practice tests many times (2-4). A side benefit is that if you do them enough times, you'll recognize the problems if your professor decides to put one on an exam.

    Everyone is different. My "methods" may not work for you. You need to find what you feel most comfortable with. Good luck.
     
  3. celticmists18

    celticmists18 california dreaming
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    Let me preface this by saying that you need to find what works best for you!
    hmmm, lord I can barely remember freshman year . . .
    Spring Quarter:
    3 classes + 1 lab
    17 hours/wk in class
    I probably AVERAGED 2-2.5 hours a night during the week, all bets were off on the weekend.
    Flashcards are definitely helpful for some classes. My studying MO was read and highlight, them before the tests take notes from highlighted stuff (combining with class notes), attempt to memorize, then make another sheet of stuff that I couldn't remember. Good luck, and the best advice I can give is EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!
     
  4. Spitting Camel

    Spitting Camel Anteater for Life!
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    I didn't really study until a couple of days before an exam... Usually, I just go to lecture, absorb a lot there, and then I whip it out for an exam.
     
  5. Hallm_7

    Hallm_7 Senior Member
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    Whatever your method, make sure you start early! I am convinced it is better to study 3 hours a night for three nights than one night of study for 9 hours. The way I study depends on the class. In some bio classes where the test questions come from the notes only read the stuff you don't understand and spend most of the time memorizing your notes. For example, for Anatomy and Physiology class there were 10-15 pages of typed up notes per test in my particular class. The teacher was extremely thorough in his questioning, so the best thing to do was basically memorize the notes. We (me and a couple other guys who did well) usually started four days before the test, and we would divide the notes into thirds. The first night we learned the first third, second night we learned the second third, and the third night we learned the third third of notes. On the fourth we reviewed over everything. This method really really helped out.

    For my biochemistry class that I'm taking I have to study a little differently. Our questions come straight from the text, so I start studying 3 night before a test. I usually read it first and highlight. Then the second time I read it I take my own notes. Writing things down seems to help me remember it. And I usually read the text again on the day of the test one last time. It works because taking notes on the text helps you learn the details and reading it like a book at the beginning and the end helps me get the overall concepts.
     
  6. carrie198

    carrie198 Member
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    I didn't really ever study until the night before my exams except in Biochem and O-chem and it seemed to work for me, but I wouldn't necessarily reccommend doing that.

    For Bio, Anatomy, and Physiology I always rewrote my notes and if possible, wrote them in my own words. This forced me to slow down and really understand everything. I also drew all of the important figures and pathways. For very specific details (such as hormones, muscle origin, insertion, action, etc.) that required memorization, I made flashcards. This method also worked well for the MCAT.

    For Physics, G-Chem, and Calc, I usually just made sure I understood the basics and memorized the formulas. I didn't usually do many practice problems, but I looked over old tests sometimes.
     
  7. jhk43

    jhk43 Senior Member
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    crammed, relied on the curve.
     
  8. jlee9531

    jlee9531 J,A,S
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    ....op must not trust my study habits :(
     
  9. J33

    J33 Senior Member
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    Every quarter has been about the same for me:
    4 classes (always 3 science/engineering and 1 easy nonscience)
    ~15-20 hrs/week in class

    I hardly ever study during the week. Fresh/soph year I would just study all day on Sundays and then cram the night before tests. I always found that easier. Now, I just cram before tests and usually don't do anything on Sundays anymore. But everyone's different, and I know people who did the same thing I did and it didn't work as well for them.

    On a side note---I highly recommend trying to learn classes like biology and organic chem. conceptually, rather than as a bunch of unrelated facts. I don't know anyone at my school who gots As using the flashcard method. Test questions usually have tricks, or differ some way from the basic info, so that people who know the concepts do well and people who just memorized the facts don't do well.
     
  10. LoneCoyote

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    I am a crammer and it has always worked. For most science classes I always went to class and took good notes. Then right before the test I would re-write the notes into a condensed study sheet and memorized. For classes with problems sets I always did them thoroughly, usually with other people and made sure I understood what I was turning in. I usually went over the common types of homwork questions the night before the test also. For Biochem with so much info to memorize I read the chapters and highlighted either before or after the lecture. Then I just crammed about 2 nights before. I am not sure I would recommend studying this way to everyone, but it really worked for me and I usually do a lot better under pressure.
     
  11. drlexygoat

    drlexygoat Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
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    I realized a long time ago that there's a time for work and a time for play. Just make sure you've got your priorities straight.
     
  12. exmike

    exmike NOR * CAL
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    i dont qualify, so i can tell you what NOT to do.

    Do not:

    Listen to people that say "oh its just pass/fail", YOU CAN STILL FAIL! trust me.

    Show up to class only for the midterm and finals

    or even worse, miss them all together b/c you were never in class so you didnt know they were upcoming!

    Drink on weekdays and sleep on weekends

    Take wild roadtrips the week of your final

    Copy homework off someone as deliquent as you

    Wait until the night before your final to start studying.

    Get a single digit exam score on a midterm (yes, it happened to me!)

    Make friends with people that study even less than you

    and i could go on and on and on
     
  13. ad_sharp

    ad_sharp Senior Member
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    Everybody studies differently. I memorize (primarily), do flashcards, re-write notes, and use a tape recorder. I'm a huge nerd and while in college, I found out that I am a very auditory learner. In a few of my classes, I took notes and about a week before the exam, I would read my notes into a tape recorder. I put the tape in my car and listened to them as I casually drove around doing errands. I worked great. I don't know if this will do for everyone, but it saved me a lot of time.

    Generally speaking, I study until I'm sick of looking at the material and don't care anymore. By the time that I have reached this point, I know the material well enough for the exam. However, this is my last semester of undergrad and I have gotten very lazy with the studying. I'll have to kick it in gear this fall.
     
  14. Anka

    Anka Senior Member
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    I don't go to class unless the lecturer is very good or the material we're responsible for is the class and not the text. So, usually 3 hours per week in class (taking 5 classes), then 8-10 hours per weekday studying. Saturday I take off. Sunday I go over quickly the stuff coming up for the week to get my bearings. Then back at it again. All nighters before exams.

    For any class with problems I do problems. Few classes are really pure memorization, but when they are I write outlines/make flashcards, etc.

    Anka
     
  15. This is how I am too. Its all about efficiency.
     
  16. Bad Mojo

    Bad Mojo Cold as Ice
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    What worked for me was going back over all of the material/notes and trying to consolidate it on one page. It helped me to organize everything and pick out the important things. Also, rewriting stuff helps he learn/memorize it. In the end, I would have a study sheet that tailor-made for me and how I think.
     
  17. exilio

    exilio Jocular Junior
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    Wow.

    Thanks for the great responses.

    It is as varied as I suspected but there are a few threads of consistency I can use.

    I have heard the general rule of thumb is 2 hours of homework for every hour of in class time. I have found that to be fairly accurate...depending of course on a particular class' content.

    exmike,
    words to live by buddy. ;)

    I would love to hear any other techniques.

    Thanks again.
     
  18. BerkeleyPremed

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    I read the chapters the professors assigns either before I go to class... or the class after the lecture is given (this can help reinforce what the professor was talking about). I highlight all the really important information (important pathways in physiology, equations in physics/chemistry, etc) and then go over what I highlighted a second time around in the days prior to the exam.

    I also take notes on what I read as I'm reading...this will DEFINITELY slow you down in terms of progress...but it has done wonders for me in terms of RETENTION of material. I recommend this technique for courses that require TONS of memorization...aka...ANY biology class. For physics/math...your best bet is to get your hands on any past exams given by the professor and work those problems at least 2 times. You might also want to go over hw problems...but from my experience, the hw problems are easier and are not representative of exam material.

    To reiterate what others have said, you need to find out what works for you. I wish you the best of luck!
     
  19. raven

    raven Member
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    I sleep on the books, and them read them on the toilet. I only study on the toilet. It's a peaceful place that is second only to the car. Studying while driving is a rush that anyone can enjoy. I also tend to remember the details surrounding life threatning situations.

    Good Luck wiht the studying
     
  20. mosoriire

    mosoriire Senior Member
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    I wonder how many students will be able to do this in med schl? If a student doesnt really absorb much from lectures, and then needs 8 - 10 hrs to study on their own, where will the time come from in med Schl? Especially those that REQUIRE attendance in all lectures, bad and good...

    Any thoughts?
     
  21. potuhusky

    potuhusky Will fix broken hearts
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    study until you feel comfortable with the material being tested. once you've done that, realize that you really only know half of it!

    spend the rest of your time figuring out what that other half is and get comfortable with it as well.
     
  22. Luthertaketwo

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    8-10 hours a weekday????????????? That's about what I study on a non-exam week.
     
  23. docmemi

    docmemi 1K Member
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    figure out your teacher...office hours.
     
  24. Anka

    Anka Senior Member
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    mosoriire -- the school I'll be attending in the fall, while it does have required classes, tends to be taught in a small group format. I learn well in and enjoy that style. My problem with lectures is that, while I can remember just about everything the guy says and can regurgitate it on demand, you have to interact with a subject (do problems, answer questions, restate facts, etc) in order to understand it. When I read on my own, I both learn and understand because I stop, look at questions, answer them, etc. When I listen to some guy lecture, there really isn't a "let's stop now and do a few problems" break (as there is in small group sessions). I think you'll find that most schools that require attendence aren't requiring attendence at lectures -- usually it's labs, small group, etc.

    It was definitly something I thought about as I applied to medical school, though. I wouldn't have applied to a program that was 8 am - 5 pm required lecture!

    Anka
     
  25. mosoriire

    mosoriire Senior Member
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    Please tell me you arent an undergrad, because I cant see how you would cope in med schl. Most schls are still based on the 8 - 5. Where will you find 8 hours to study a day in that kind of setting? Plus if you are studying 8 to 10 hours a day on undergrad level chem, biochem, etc, what will happen when you get to med schl? 24hrs a day of studying?

    Sorry if I sound cynical or whatever, it's more alarm at the thought of what it would take to make the med schl transition for people that need to study 10 hrs as undergrads, than anything else. But then again, in terms of retention capacity, everyone differs, right?
     
  26. jlee9531

    jlee9531 J,A,S
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    seriously man...i dont know if i even hit 8-10 hours a week on a non exam week haha.
     
  27. exilio

    exilio Jocular Junior
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    2 hours for every hour of class work is obviously an estimate. Some classes require such effort while others may require very little time spent out of class.

    For myself, on an average day:

    Math (int algebra) - 50 min in class/30m to 1h30m HW at home depending on lesson

    English (1a w/ hon req) - 50 min in class/30m to 1h a night reading. More if I need to write a big out-of-class essay.

    History (american) - 1h30m in class/45m or so at home for reading.

    Chem (fundamentals) - This is the bear, 50m in class/ 1-2h per night if I am being strict

    All bets are off during test time. Especially with finals just around the corner.

    But next quarter will be far more challenging coursework and I want to make sure I apportion out my time appropriately.

    So maybe we should make it easy to break down:

    How many units are you taking and how much time do you spend on homework per week on average; not including test time?
     
  28. kbkaggie

    kbkaggie Member
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    i went to the most lectures in the hard classes- like chem,biochem, outlined the reading assignments, read over my outlines and class notes to study for the test.
     
  29. snoopdowc

    snoopdowc Junior Member
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    Most of the time i just cheated. Other times I bought the exam ahead of time. Very convienent.
     
  30. gomezemog

    gomezemog Junior Member
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    When studying, put on the heaviest music you can find at a volume just high enough to cause hearing damage (hearing aid technology should be pretty good in a few decades). Then, when you are taking your tests you will be ultra-focused. This also helps if you have trouble with falling asleep everytime you open a textbook.
     
  31. Fumoffu

    Fumoffu Senior Member
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    I despise studying. I know it's terrible to say since physicians should be constantly studying and reading journals. I should reword that as I despise studying things that really don't matter in the end. I mean physics? Seriously...except for how to read EKGs, do we really need to know physics beyond basic concepts?

    I usually just attend class, try to learn as much from the lecture. Then 2 days or day before the exam, I lock myself in my room and cram and start reading the material. Works for me.

    Do what works for you.
     
  32. Spitting Camel

    Spitting Camel Anteater for Life!
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    That's what I thought, too! That is just crazy, plain and simple. Just like the others on this board, I have to wonder how you could make it in med school without burning out. Yikes!! Maybe that's a sign that what you do ISN'T working...
     
  33. mikeyboy

    mikeyboy Senior Member
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    The most important thing, to me, was figuring out a different study method for each class. I usually over-study for the first midterm, but after that I can learn how a professor grades and tests and study based on that. Freshmen year, I almost never went to physics after the first midterm, because I realized that doing the problem sets was much more applicable than learning the derivations of everything in class; they simply didn't ask you to do things like that. In O-chem, I always went to lecture because the teacher went over examples that would help; I also just did all the old midterms I could find, over and over, until I really understood what was going on.

    The key is efficiency. Don't study too much for a class that you know you can get an A in, and don't expect to learn everything a teacher tells you. A lot of friends of mine will spend hours and hours going over minor details that I know won't be on a test. In my electrical engineering class, I knew it wasn't important to memorize the details of an op-amp or microfab techniques, and since I knew I wouldn't be going into that field, I kinda just ignored it. Maybe its not ideal that I purposely ignore some things a teacher tries to teach, but it has helped me get A's in almost all my science classes despite spending much less time studying than those high strung pre-med bio majors :laugh:
     
  34. chrisfeliciano

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    I usually dotn study not until the night or hours before the tests. Its just me. I think that I already know the material so I dont have to cover them again. i just needed to become acquainted to the material that os relevant for the examination. flashcards works perfectly. In o-chem (orgo), I buy a notebook and write and rewrite the biochemical pathways in nauseam... like 20 to 30 times. This will work with Bio the best with all those arrows and diagrams (ie PLant alternation generation)... goood luck.
     
  35. mamaMD

    mamaMD Senior Member
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    For Chem 1 this semester I have to study about 1-2 hours a night (mon-fri, I hate to study on the weekends) to maintain an A. I could NOT cram before a Chem class at all, if I did I would *totally* flunk it.

    Some classes I hardly have to study for at all and others a lot!

    I am taking stats this semester and my instructor is so amazing and makes it a breeze (homework counts for 50% of our grade!) so I study maybe an hour before the exam in that class.

    Biology is all memorization and most of it I already know from previous classes (micro, physio, etc) that it's all review to me basically so I study about 5 hours before and exam and that is it.

    I am NO genius either, you just have to figure out what works for each class, which instructors are the best, how the test and what they test off of, etc I use flashcards a lot as well, they are good for memorizing things and writing down important terms, formulas, etc Plus they are portable and I can take them anywhere :)

    I also have 2 tiny kids at home to deal with so they are always distracting me, so I know when I study I HAVE to learn it then and there or I might not get another chance.....lol

    M
     
  36. fullefect1

    fullefect1 Senior Member
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    Most schools do not require you to attend lecture except for anatomy. At least that is the impression that I am recieving from many posts. I defenitely would pick a school over another just on the fact that they do not have manditory lectures. I think it is a waste of time attending classes on some subjects. Trading notes would be ideal.
     
  37. LauraMac

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    the first school i went to was super easy and we would know exactly what we were going to be tested on, so i would wait til the last day to study for exams, and i did really well.

    but in the real world, at a school that is actually hard like college is supposed to be, i do a lot more work. for engineering/math/physics/chemistry classes i do all the homework assignments, put a lot of effort into them by starting early, going to office hours to figure out what i don't know, and then getting everything right so that i get a good grade for homework and learn everything i need to in the process. so with these types of classes i put a lot of consistent effort in during the semester and the night before an exam i only study for a few hours and never panic.

    with biology and other memorization type classes, i do the exact opposite. i skip class, never go to office hours, never do anything until a few days before the exam. and at that point i just cram everything i can into my head, slightly panic, frequently pull an allnighter the night before, and then take the exam.

    the most important thing is to learn what your professor is going to test on. sometimes this is impossible cause they want to make you learn every excruciatingly minute detail, but sometimes they give you a good idea of what they are looking for. ask upperclassmen what profs are good and what their teaching styles are and do tons and tons of old exams for practice.

    another big thing is to figure out what type of learner you are. individual or group, visual or auditory, etc. and take advantage of that.
     
  38. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    Exactly. Even if you have to come out and ask. Saves a lot of time to do this.

    I took quite a few tests to try and identify what kind of learner I am throughout high school and for tutor certification. Not one test really pegged down exactly what I am. They all said I was a combination of auditory, visual, and tactile. Well, after 3 years of college I noticed that during tests I always remember things I saw during lecture, certain pages of my notes, or certain diagrams. So, knowing this: I draw a lot of flow charts and diargrams to connect everything together. This helps a lot!

    I would say that half the reason I have a good gpa is because of these things. The other 50% is because I put fourth the effort and try. I learn everything that is on the notes THAT is important.
     
  39. bewitched1081

    bewitched1081 Senior Member
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    im a major procrastinator but i have a good short term memory. usually i dont start studying until the day or night before. what i always do is filter the information. i'll go through it once and mark the info that i need to review. then i'll go through the marked info and mark the info that i need to go over again with a different color. i keep doing this until i feel like i've memorized everything. if i have time for 3 rounds or more (sometimes i dont even have time for one round...yeah i know; i need to start studying sooner), by the time im done, my papers are soooo marked up. oh... the most important factor? prayer and giving glory to God. ive seen crazy things happen with prayer. one time i practically scored the mean on a final (the final was 40% of the grade; this was upper div developmental bio; i didnt attend lecture and i dont think i even got through one round) in a curved class. somehow, i got an A+. praise God!
     
  40. Pre-Dent-David

    Pre-Dent-David Super Hero
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    Study more than necessary. Study until you fall asleep from fatigue. Study until all the blood vessels burst in your non vital organs. Drink gasoline and fuel your body with the nectar that was only meant for immortal steel.
     
  41. DrBodacious

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    It totally depends on your classes. For classes like anatomy, and probably orgo, I put in some daily or bi-daily studying. Other than anatomy, I've been a crammer (i.e. morning of, night before, maybe two nights before) and it has worked well for me, but I know I'll have to make some adjustments in med school next year since cramming is not going to work with the massive amounts of material I'll be facing. Also, I would guess that the classes at my school do not go into as much depth/detail compared to a presitigious institution. But noone really remembers the details 6 months after the classes are over, so I don't think I'm at a big disadvantage for starting med school.

    Also, you study habits obviously have to be formed around your class/work/EC schedule. I've always tried to leave some time in between classes so that I will have a couple hours to review right before exams. If you have a stacked schedule, you'll have to employ more diligent study habits so that you actually store the material in a more long-term memory bank.
     
  42. niema

    niema Member
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    I totally think that it depends on your own style of learning. I probably attended 10% of science lectures throughout my college career. I learned early on that I was definately not an auditory learner, and spent that time doing other things (like sleeping) because I also noticed that my mind works much faster at night.

    It also depends on the subject. I really took the time to learn organic instead of memorizing it, which made the class much easier for me.

    I think that the key to doing well in school is taking classes that you like and being well balanced. A happy student is definately more productive than a miserable, overworked, one.
     
  43. exilio

    exilio Jocular Junior
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    Wow.

    I just finsihed up finals and got a chance to swing by tthe board. Thank you so much for all the great responses.

    Although most of the responses run the gamut from anal-level highlighting, recording, chartmaking, note-taking to the more relaxed student that would cram hours before a test.

    So I am still trying to figure out where I fall into all of these styles. It has been several years since I was in school. So my science and math background are anemeic at best. I feel I need to study twice as much as most people in class since I don't have the fundamental foundation they do.

    However, the one advantage I do have is in the humanities since those are easy enough to BS my way through. So it means I need to apportion more time out to science and math.

    The one recurring comment I read was practicng previous midterms. I think this is an excellent idea and it something I did when preparing for my chem final.

    However, going into a new quarter that is tough. Currently I am at a JC which means there are no upper classmen and students tend to be highly transient. So it is highly unlikely for me to find past exams, except from the source.

    Is it possible that professors keep and part with old exams for students to practice with?

    And thanks again for the mention of techniques you all use. I am will try to employ some of them and perhaps work on a few of my own.

    One thing I have learned about my study style is that I tend to be a much better individual studier than a group studier. I think studying in a group is a time sucker for me.

    Any other tips are of course appreciate not only by me, but all newbies like myself on this board.

    Thanks again.
     
  44. Skaterbabe74

    Skaterbabe74 Senior Member
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    It all depends on the prof. Most of my profs have past exams on our class website for us. Typically if they aren't available or you aren't told they are available at the beginning of a semester they won't be available period, but I don't think it hurts to ask...especially if it's more than just one person asking...who knows, they may decide it's time to join the modern world:p . If they aren't available usually it's because they use the same questions over and over.

    At some schools certain clubs will make old exams available for a small fee as well...I know several ACS clubs that do this.

    You probably will find old exams available more prevalently at universities vs community colleges but a few of my CC classes did make practice exams available to us so it's not unheard of.

    Good luck!
     

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