Succeeding in a Science Class

Commandments for Studying

Commitment includes:

  1. Attend class every day, and rarely or never be late

  2. Get sufficient sleep every night to avoid being a zombie during class

  3. Do not hold private conversations during lecture - if you have questions ask your professor

  4. Never get up and leave early from class - it disturbs the other students and annoys and insults the professor

  5. Sit near the front of the room and be more of a participant not a passive observer

  6. Take notes on everything in class including questions in a "lecture driven" course

  7. Don't conserve your notebook by jamming a lecture into the smallest possible space

  8. Put an * next to information (and learn the material) the professor says "will be on the test" or "this would make a good test question" or "you may see this again"

Training the memory: "Learning by rote" has been outmoded in education for many years. Yet there is no doubt that a well-trained memory can aid students in their educational pursuits. There are tricks of memorization. Anyone can master them. Try these methods the next time you have to commit anything to memory:

  1. Find a quiet place to study with no distractions (this also means no TV or music)!

  2. Before you start memorizing anything, read your notes from beginning to end. Understand them. Often understanding the notes means carefully reading the text, and then filling in additional information that helps you interpret or clarify your notes. Look up any terms that you are not familiar with. Alternatively, you may need to ask about it in class, ask the free tutors, email the instructor, or check with a friend who understands. Use the free space in your notes to add your points of clarification.

  3. Don't try to cram your memory. Don't try to learn all the material in one sitting. Take a breather from time to time, but do try to study about the same time each day to generate good study habits and your own regimentation.

  4. If learning the material is too confusing; try organizing your notes in either a skeleton outline, or create silly sentences (mnemonics) to keep track of things like the order of steps in a process such as mitosis. Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase. P MAT? For the taxonomic classification system: King Philip Came Over For Good Soup

  5. Note cards or flash cards are a waste of time to make and don't really help learning the "big picture" of each lecture !!

  6. Always "overlearn.." Once you have committed something to memory, wait a day or two, and study it once more. For example, before trying to learn a new lecture, review the old ones as a way of refreshing your memory. Surprisingly, when it comes time to study for an exam, you will be far less stressed out, and find it much easier to face an exam using overlearning. Everyone recognizes that overlearning is hard work, time intensive, requires dedication and responsibility, but the rewards are the mastery of the subject and good grades!

  7. The best way to learn anything is to teach it to someone or something else. Either find a tutor, someone in class who is doing better than you, or talk to something (inanimate) where you are studying. If you study with someone else you do all the teaching and let them tell you if you make a mistake. If not, say to your pet goldfish or your refrigerator " OK goldfish I'm going to tell you every thing I know about ... photosynthesis" or what ever. Then see if you can put the steps in a logical order to teach someone else about photosynthesis.

  8. Put the information to use right away after you have memorized it. For example, study groups of 4-5 dedicated (not socializing) friends who are in the same class can help each other through further clarification of difficult concepts; quiz each other on detail; review for upcoming exams; and generally contribute to enhanced learning. The difficulty with study groups is being certain everyone is dedicated and no one is there for the "ride."

  9. The night before the exam you should be fairly comfortable with the individual facts or terms. Spend the night putting the "big pictures" together. See if you can use the formulas from Photosynthesis to explain the overall reaction and how they relate to a plant. See if you can discuss the "big pictures" like Mitosis, Respiration, the Endocrine System, or Population Ecology and see if you can relate all the terms, facts, and equations you learned for that section of material.

  10. Find the memory trick that fits your "type." Some people find it easier to remember things they see; Others can best remember things they hear or repeatedly write over and over again. Through trial and error, find out which of these approaches is best for you. Remember this is hard work, and requires lots of time day in and day out.

Major Modification by Rodney Sobieski and Greg Sievert from "A Treasury of Techniques for Teaching Adults." Edited by Virginia Warren

Last updated on 23 July 2017
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