Archive for the ‘notes’ Category

I hate mathI’ve recently returned to college to work on a master’s degree. When I talked to my advisor, he said I should take a statistics class to prepare for a research methods class. I think my blood ran cold. Math is not my strong suite. I can make straight A’s in just about any other type of class, but my mind has a great difficulty processing math. I really did not want to do it, but I also recognized the value of good advice.

I signed up for the class, and tried to adjust my attitude to a positive one. I studied, I did my homework, and I spent a lot of time preparing for my first test. So, imagine my disappointment when I scored a low C on my first test. I got a little more organized, and I made some changes in how I was studying. I practiced the type of problems I thought I would see on the test, and I did a little better. But, I was still not happy with my grade. I teach students how to study for a living, so I needed to take a hard look at myself and my study habits, just like I would any other college student.

What was I missing? What was I not doing?

Pre-reading! I hadn’t been doing it, because my instructor was not telling us what she would cover in the next class. So, I decided to ask her. I sent her a message on Blackboard and asked what I should read before the next class. She was happy to tell me!

Guess what? It made a world of difference! I went to class knowing which concepts I understood, and what was causing me trouble. I went to class, prepared with questions I needed to ask, and I had the vocabulary I needed to understand more from the lecture. I also had notes from my reading, and I could just add to them in class, rather than frantically trying to write down every single word my instructor said. My experience in class was immensely different when I went to class prepared.

If you are a college student and haven’t been doing this, I would emphatically recommend it. Class is a totally different experience when you pre-read the text material, or material provided by your instructor. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your instructor questions. I have found that instructors are very accommodating and helpful. They like to know students are engaged and care about their class. Questions are welcomed and encouraged by most!

TRY IT! You will be glad you did.

The Five Step FormulaOne simple thing that students can do to improve their grades, is to read their textbooks and read them at the right times! I am going to give you a 5-step formula that is very simple, but will make a HUGE difference in your understanding of new material and in your grades. This formula should be used every time you are tackling new material for your class:

Step 1: Consult your syllabus the day before each class, and see what is going to be covered in your next lecture. Then, read the corresponding textbook material during the 24 hours before the next class. Take notes using the Cornell method, and leave spaces between each topic, so you can add to them during the lecture, if needed.

Step 2: Go to class, and during the lecture, add to your notes any time you see things you missed, or if you need to clarify things.

Step 3: Review your notes (including the material covered in class) within 20 minutes after the lecture. (If you go to another class right after that one, review while you are waiting for the next class to start.) Edit, or add to your notes, as needed.

Step 4: Conduct another review of this material within 24 hours, and write study questions for the material.

Step 5: Review again in a week and any time you have a chance, go over your study questions. (See this post on portable flash cards.)

Keep track of these reviews in your planner, or each time you finish a review, write the day you should conduct the next review at the top of the page. After you have completed these five steps, you have established pretty solid bank of memories you can draw from during your next exam. If you will be having a comprehensive final exam, continue to skim/review the material every 3-4 weeks to keep it active in your memory throughout the semester.

This process is tight. You will learn and retain information better than ever, and will be far less stressed that you would be if you were cramming for every exam.

Good luck!