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Successful Study habits for classes

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thirk_dds

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Hello all, I am returning back to school in January to take my prereqs for dental school starting with bio and chem. Ive been researching time management skills and came up with a plan and wanted to get you guys' opinion.

I plan to study a bit everyday to stay ahead of the class in reading: If a chapter is 40 pages then read 8 pages at least per day and take notes to allow 2 days to practice the problems in the book or hw and to allow me to start reading ahead for the next chapter. This way, come a week or so before exam week, I would just have to focus on concepts and practice problems and practice exams.

I plan to do this for both bio and chem. I know chem is applied science, therefore having work problems, but the same can be done with bio I assume by really combing over the concepts and doing the questions in the book or seeking more from the prof.

What do you guys think? Im aiming to for all A's and I know it will be difficult. Good thing for me is im a little older (30) and dont have friends or parties to go to. Just me and my wife.
 
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Incis0r

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You've got the right mindset!

I think you'll do well and will meet your expectations of all As if you continue on your current path. The most important thing, imho, is the mindset, which you already have. Also, to further fortify your strength, I'd recommend watching this short 10 min video on the importance of a growth mindset- it completely changed how I approached my education.

If I had to go back and redo college, I'd give myself the following advice. I hope it helps:
  • talk to the professors early...as in the first week of class, and try to get a sense of what to focus on. This helped me tremendously. If a professor says "I want you to focus on big picture ideas such as the reactants and products of the Krebs Cycle, but there is no need to know the intermediates" or "I will only test you on material we cover in lecture," then you have just saved yourself a lot of time and improved your studying efficiency.

  • Also, go to office hours- I got to know my professors very well in Office Hours, and a small 30 minute meeting with them helped me quickly understand a lot of concepts that I would spent hours struggling over otherwise. This can also lead to some excellent letters of recommendation, which you will need in the application cycle.

  • Active studying beats passive studying every time- Download Anki and make biology flashcards. The minute I switched from re-reading my notes repeatedly (passive studying) to questioning myself/drilling flashcards (active studying), my grades went up quite rapidly. It takes a little getting used to- you need to phrase the content as a question to improve memory recall. Example- Instead of repeatedly reading that the three major parts of the tooth are the enamel, dentin, and pulp, you make a flashcard. One side says "What are the three major layers of the tooth?" The other says "Enamel, Dentin, and Pulp"

  • Make time for friends & parties- It may sound counterintuitive, but I had my highest semester GPAs during semesters where I went out with friends, participated in some really neat ECs, etc. I know you said you don't have friends or parties to go to, but consider creating an account on Meetup.com and finding a group you're interested in.
 
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confidentandgood

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@Incis0r gave some great advice. I'm going to add a few more points.
  • Know that your study habits may vary from course to course. Chemistry is a subject in which practice problems help you achieve comprehension. For biology, strategies like flashcards and videos are more useful. You may find that reading the textbook is not as useful in say, organic chemistry. Perhaps your performance improves when you dedicate the time to reworking problems at the end of the chapter. Maybe there are certain subjects where you'd prefer to study with a group. These are points you will have to assess depending on how things go throughout the semester. And remember that the teaching skills of a professor are very rarely the reason a student does poorly.
  • Avoid overworking yourself. This is where time management becomes extra important. If you study better when you go for three hours at a time, do that. If you can go for six hours without a break and do well, go for it. Set an alarm, and take some time to relax in between work and study sessions.
  • Don't worry about how other people study. Advice I think all students, whether fresh out of high school or non-traditional, should take. There will always be someone in your class who studies eight hours a day and aces the exams. There will always be someone who studies the night before and aces the exams. And (worst of all) there will always be people who compare themselves to everyone else. Worry about yourself. This is your education and your future.
Good luck, OP!
 
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thirk_dds

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You've got the right mindset!

I think you'll do well and will meet your expectations of all As if you continue on your current path. The most important thing, imho, is the mindset, which you already have. Also, to further fortify your strength, I'd recommend watching this short 10 min video on the importance of a growth mindset- it completely changed how I approached my education.

If I had to go back and redo college, I'd give myself the following advice. I hope it helps:
  • talk to the professors early...as in the first week of class, and try to get a sense of what to focus on. This helped me tremendously. If a professor says "I want you to focus on big picture ideas such as the reactants and products of the Krebs Cycle, but there is no need to know the intermediates" or "I will only test you on material we cover in lecture," then you have just saved yourself a lot of time and improved your studying efficiency.

  • Also, go to office hours- I got to know my professors very well in Office Hours, and a small 30 minute meeting with them helped me quickly understand a lot of concepts that I would spent hours struggling over otherwise. This can also lead to some excellent letters of recommendation, which you will need in the application cycle.

  • Active studying beats passive studying every time- Download Anki and make biology flashcards. The minute I switched from re-reading my notes repeatedly (passive studying) to questioning myself/drilling flashcards (active studying), my grades went up quite rapidly. It takes a little getting used to- you need to phrase the content as a question to improve memory recall. Example- Instead of repeatedly reading that the three major parts of the tooth are the enamel, dentin, and pulp, you make a flashcard. One side says "What are the three major layers of the tooth?" The other says "Enamel, Dentin, and Pulp"

  • Make time for friends & parties- It may sound counterintuitive, but I had my highest semester GPAs during semesters where I went out with friends, participated in some really neat ECs, etc. I know you said you don't have friends or parties to go to, but consider creating an account on Meetup.com and finding a group you're interested in.

Thanks for this valuable feedback. I definitely agree with your points here. I also have been watching vids on this growth mindset concept and really am astounded by it. I never really paid attention to that mindset and usually have always been the fixed mindset person. I would often give up on things when they get too hard (something Im working on) and maybe that's why I haven't made it to d school yet. I used to look at the kids who would score in the 90's on chem exams and physics exams and always thought they were some type of geniuses. From watching these vids I've come to the conclusion that one can really do anything they want as long as they follow this equation: Hard work + perseverance= success. But in order to perservere you must have that growth mindset for motivation and be willing to put in the hours when needed. Thanks man
 
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thirk_dds

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@Incis0r gave some great advice. I'm going to add a few more points.
  • Know that your study habits may vary from course to course. Chemistry is a subject in which practice problems help you achieve comprehension. For biology, strategies like flashcards and videos are more useful. You may find that reading the textbook is not as useful in say, organic chemistry. Perhaps your performance improves when you dedicate the time to reworking problems at the end of the chapter. Maybe there are certain subjects where you'd prefer to study with a group. These are points you will have to assess depending on how things go throughout the semester. And remember that the teaching skills of a professor are very rarely the reason a student does poorly.
  • Avoid overworking yourself. This is where time management becomes extra important. If you study better when you go for three hours at a time, do that. If you can go for six hours without a break and do well, go for it. Set an alarm, and take some time to relax in between work and study sessions.
  • Don't worry about how other people study. Advice I think all students, whether fresh out of high school or non-traditional, should take. There will always be someone in your class who studies eight hours a day and aces the exams. There will always be someone who studies the night before and aces the exams. And (worst of all) there will always be people who compare themselves to everyone else. Worry about yourself. This is your education and your future.
Good luck, OP!

Hey thanks for the reply. I also agree with these points and I also heard that different classes may require different strategies. I've noticed that if im really into it, I can study a class (chem at least) for hours upon hours literally all day. Although this is a good thing I do understand that it can be counterproductive as well. I work around 35 hours per week and can adjust my schedule because it's retail, but, I know that when Im off and before/after work, it is very wise to put in the hours to read/practice my work. That is exactly my strategy, to stay ahead of the class so I can have more time to practice/memorize things and ask the prof. I've also noticed that many students don't do well not because they are stupid (I used to think I was a few years back) but because they keep putting off their study time until last second and then try to do mnemonics for quick understanding. In science, comprehension of concepts is key, not always just memorization. Thanks again man
 
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Incis0r

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Thanks for this valuable feedback. I definitely agree with your points here. I also have been watching vids on this growth mindset concept and really am astounded by it. I never really paid attention to that mindset and usually have always been the fixed mindset person. I would often give up on things when they get too hard (something Im working on) and maybe that's why I haven't made it to d school yet. I used to look at the kids who would score in the 90's on chem exams and physics exams and always thought they were some type of geniuses. From watching these vids I've come to the conclusion that one can really do anything they want as long as they follow this equation: Hard work + perseverance= success. But in order to perservere you must have that growth mindset for motivation and be willing to put in the hours when needed. Thanks man

I'm glad you found it helpful.

I understand how you felt about the kids scoring 90s in high school because I felt the same way about them- they must be gifted geniuses. I had a fixed mindset too. Let me tell you- in freshman year of high school, I was a below average student. I'm the guy who would be happy to get above a C on an exam. Unlike my peers, I did very poorly on exams.

When I learned about the growth mindset, everything changed. I became empowered (cliche as it may sound) and I was able to completely overhaul my study skills (and therefore, my grades). I'm content with my performance in the last few years, and the growth mindset is responsible for my success.

I wish you the best of luck.
 
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JLT223

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Rule #1 is don't fall behind. Consistency is key.
 
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