Author Topic: Study Habits  (Read 1665 times)

Offline iFett

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Study Habits
« on: August 20, 2005, 01:10 PM »
I was wondering if I could perhaps get some advice from the JD community on study habits as the majority of you guys seem to be well educated.  I graduated high school back in 96 and I swore to myself that I would only take a year off before attending college.  Well, that never happend and one thing led to another so I just kept putting it off until now - Monday actually. 

College seems like the perfect thing in my life right know as I'm getting laid off from my job after 5 years unfortunately due to consolidation so the state is going to pay for the first few semesters of school for me.  I don't come from a wealthy family so this was good news for me.

I hate reading, always have, always will...Now I have 10 books (which weigh about 20lbs) to read for the Fall semester.  I've not read a single book since high school, so obviously this will be a challenge for me.  I won't be working for the first semester, so I won't have that extra burden to worry about.

Any tips on the best way to study?  Self or group enviroment, online, in a library, on a train, in a plane???  I used to just blast my stereo at home which seemed to work perfectly for me back in the day, but I don't think that's such a good choice.

I'm a lurker on this site with the exception of the MN finds thread btw.  I read a lot of your guys thoughts on comments, but I don't contribute much, obviously.
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Offline john todd

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2005, 02:18 PM »
not that this is what i did, but some study tips that always seemed smart to me were...

do your homework as soon as possible after class so it is fresh in your mind

the library is more condusive to quality study time than home

group studying always seemed to be more of a gripe about the class time than study time, but sometimes you can score everyones notes and that can be handy

take advantage of free tutor labs if you need them

Offline Nathan

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2005, 02:51 PM »
So what course of study are you going into?

I agree that the library or other study area at school is much more conducive to getting stuff done. Not only are there fewer distractions (games, DVDs, etc.), but I find that simply being in the school environment is a constant reminder to keep my mind on track, whereas home defaults to the "goof-off setting".

Most of the time I'm a solitary studier (work at my own pace, study whenever it's convenient for my schedule, etc.) but others swear by study groups so it's whatever floats your boat. It's something I should probably take advantage of more often.

One thing I need to work on: I tend to need continuous chunks of time for studying, and I can't really get into the material if I only have, say, a half hour. I don't know if others have this problem.

Good luck man! :)
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2005, 04:46 PM »
Well after last year I can easily tell you what NOT to do. :-*

DON'T put off your homework or skip it all together because you think it isn't important

DON'T Stay up till 5 am then wake up at 11 and decide class is over-rated and go back to bed

DON'T be ashamed to get a tutor

DON'T be to lazy to go see your teachers, because it is on the other side of campus and you'd much rather play video games or hang out at JD

DON'T put off papers to the night before, being awake for 36 hours isn't as fun as it used to seem

DON'T skip your reading cause your think your proffeser will cover it, come test time there will be stuff on the test you have never seen if you don't read, as much as it sucks you have to read

Take that advice and it should help you do better than I did my first year. :P
« Last Edit: August 20, 2005, 04:46 PM by Sith Lord Chaos »
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Offline Matt_Fury

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2005, 06:18 PM »
I'm not saying this will work for you, but this has always worked for me in the past.

Go to the library, or somewhere that is suited for studying.  (I'va also been known to pull up a table to a comfortable chair at a starbucks).  Make sure you're comfortable and just get to it.  I also find that having my cd player on, or the radio or something in the background can help break the mundane silence of the library, but don't get something that's too distracting.

Don't try to read everything right away.  Pace yourself by reading sections at a time and then taking a break, otherwise your mind will wander off and you won't get anything out of it.  Schedule breaks just to get your mind on something else for a bit, but don't schedule them on time, make them after you get so much of the work done.

My undergraduate was in math so this was particularly important.  WORK EVERY PROBLEM MULTIPLE TIMES!  Practice definitely makes perfect.

Hope this helps you and good luck.   :)
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Offline TheBlackDog65

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2005, 01:26 AM »
1. Be organized. Know where you should be and be there. Don't skip class.

2. Don't be afraid to seek help from your professors, but have it down exactly what you want help on so they can get to the meat.

3. As said, use free tutors and/or if needed pay for a tutor if you can.

4. Mix up your classes. Take some classes that you'll enjoy.

5. Find out in what areas of your studies you want to be challenged in, and take classes from challenging professors. Know what professors are easy, especially regarding generals and lighten your load so you can work on your core areas. You'll still learn, but you may have less out of class work.

6. Learn how to take notes. I always used an outline system and that worked for me quite well until I got to my graduate studies.  Whatever you use, make sure you note taking works for you.

5. Go to student services and find out if/when the university is holding a study skills class or seminar for new students. Most colleges do this and it helps ALOT!

6. On reading, the key is not necessary always reading everything, the key is knowing what is important, and what is not. Your course work should help you if you have good professors who plan their curriculium and use the textbook to supplement.

7. Do not procasniate as has been said. Do today what is do in 2 to 3 weeks. As a freshman when you write papers, find out there the English Dept has a writing lab, and have people read your writing. Editing is not a personally attack on you, but others will catch errors that you tend to make, and by showing you what errors you tend to repeat, you can learn to avoid them. Also, no matter how great a writer you become, we all make mistakes that 1 or 2 others can catch.

8. Plan in personal time. Yep, plan it in so it doesn't make you late. Do the things you like to enjoy during those times and when school is out between semesters/quarters.

9. Enjoy yourself! College is hard, demanding, but you learn more than just academics. You learn how to critical think, evaluate, and defend opinions. You learn what your strengths are, and what your weaknesses are.

10. As Winston Churchill said, "Never, never, never give up!"  By completing your degree it shows that you can make a commitment, and achieve it.  I love learning, and growing, thus why I teach!  Good luck to you!
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Offline Bob Crane

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2005, 02:48 AM »
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Offline Tracy

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2005, 10:45 AM »
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2005, 11:32 AM »
Treat it like a job. 

I'm not sure if you have part time work to interfere with it being done that way, so if you do, you'll obviously have to modify my suggestion.  But basically set aside the time from 8 until 4 (or whatever your school day runs as) as school=job.  Take a lunch break and meet with friends at that point.  But the other 7 hours are for classes and assignments, papers, reviewing notes. 

That way your evenings are free for work, partying (you have to go to class in the morning), hobbies, video games or whatever.  You'll find that you've actually done what needed to be done during the day and there ain't nuttin' better dan goofing off guilt free.  Yes, you'll have times around exams or when major papers or assingments are due that you'll lose some freedom but you'll be better prepared anyway. 

I always made study notes for the exam cram.  I found the best way to do this was immediately after class.  That way I could remember what the prof emphasized and made sure I highlighted it (not literally) and UNDERSTOOD it.  If I didn't understand it, I went to the prof within a day or so for clarification.  Asking the day before the exam will not win you any favors.   >:(  Then when the exam cram came, my notes were ready and it was just review time, no sweat with arm cramps and too much material to cover. 
It will depend on how your class schedule is set up, but I liked to have a class-break-class schedule with labs in the afternoon.  That way I could hit the notes and get them done before the next class.  Still usually had about 20-30 minutes to goof off as well. 

Go to class.  Seriously, don't rely on other people's notes.  Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're ****.  If you ask for them too often, they may start screwing with you and giving you wrong information.  Nothing pisses a dedicated student off more than some slacker asking for notes all the time and never going to class.  The bonus is the prof will recognize you.  If you mix that in with asking timely questions from your notes, they'll also recognize you.  Depending on the exam type (computer marked versus prof marked) it may win you some leniency if the prof thinks you understand it but didn't clearly explain it on the answer sheet.  It's called "benefit of a doubt".  Do not be a kiss-ass though, profs can see that too.  Ask legitimate questions when you need to, don't make daily visits.

Know your prof and what they want.  Sometimes profs are lazy ***** and don't want you to think, they want cookie cutter answers regardless of whether they are right or not.  It was well known at our school in biochemistry labs that they wanted the right results, not the results you actually achieved.  Ask people who have taken the course before what to expect and what the prof is like.  Figure it out from there.  I'm not openly advocating cheating by duplicating results but some schools/classes encourage that by their expectations and grading schemes.  This is something minor like labs.  Don't buy papers online or duplicate them. 

Find old exams so you know what kind of questions are asked and what types of answers are expected.  My alma mater had a bank of exams in the library - very useful.  No answers on them but after looking at 10 years of exams (and DOING them) you'll find yourself remarkably prepared. 

Do what you love but be realistic in your expectations.  If you want to be an English Lit major, go for it.  Don't expect a $70,000 job at the end of it.  If you're in it for enjoyment, no matter what you do you'll be pleased.  If you're in it for a job, get in a field you like but something that has employment opportunities at the end of it.  Humanities and Social Sciences are limited.  Think about a trade or community type college as well, depending on what your end goal is. 

Any job you get in the future will suck at some point.  All jobs suck to some degree.  If you're going to be unhappy you might as well be well paid. ;)

I've been on all ends of the spectrum: drunken lout to graduate student to instructor.  Trust me, having a great time and partying all the time while skipping classes is a huge blast.  But it comes at a cost.  I managed to scrape out my first degree (of three) by sheer blind, dumb, drunk luck.  I then took two years off and came back as a serious student and I have to say, it was a lot easier and very nearly as much fun.  My advice stems from what I did for the second degree, not the first. ;)
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Offline Scott

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2005, 12:49 PM »
I wanted to highlight one of Brent's suggestions

Finding Old Exams...We could buy copies of old tests from somewhere on campus.  It not only showed you how the Prof will test you, it was also an excellent way of preparing you for the test.  And sometimes, they would be pretty lazy and put identical or very similar tests to the ones that were available.  We also got to know the people the year ahead of us very well and got old tests/homework/notes from them.  I passed a lot of my stuff on to the younger people as well. 

I was a big fan of the study group.  Not only did it create some lifelong friends, it was a great way to socialize and bitch about school etc.  But it was also a way for us to help each other out in life and school in general.  College is probably the most stressful and fun time of your life.  Its crazy the amount of work and emotion and everything that goes in to it.  To top it off you are paying enormous amounts of money...with single people of the opposite sex and booze readily available.  Not too mention all of the other crap that is going on on campuses (clubs and social groups and intramural sports and etc etc etc)  So, its a huge emotional roller coaster and I found not only did we help each other learn the subject material and help with the homework.  There was also a lot of support for all of the crap that happens in your life.  I seriously miss that in my present job and to be honest a large part of the comraderie and stuff I had in school has been replaced with JD.  Its really weird but its true.  There was also some competition there...not only to beat your buddies in a friendly way (hey I got a B and you got a C, loser) but also there was competition between study groups (we did better than those guys or we hate those know it alls etc)

Best of luck Mike

Offline Paul

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2005, 01:42 PM »
Wow, most of the good suggestions are covered, but here are a few personal tips that got me through undergrad and grad school.  The caveat being they worked for ME.

1.  If you have control of your schedule....Math Classes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  3 times a week is more repetition and more chances to get the questions answered.  Reading/Literature Intensive classes on Tues/Thurs.  This way you have 5 evenings to cover a longer reading assignment.

2.  Group your classes back to back as much as possible.  It is easy to skip an 8am class if you don't have another till noon...likewise it is easy to spend time at "One Guy From Italy's Pizza" place all afternoon if you have a lonely early afternoon class that you skip.

3.  DON'T SKIP Class....this is more of a "do as I say, not as I do" type thing.  I got lucky and one day that the rest of the world skipped (Wednesday before Thanksgiving) the Professor was in a particularly foul mood about it...needless to say the final was based on that entire sessions lecture. (I had maxed out my "Skips" by that point or I too would have been half way home by class time that day too).

4.  Be an ACTIVE reader.  No matter what the subject matter keep a pen or highlighter or both handy while you read, record YOUR observations/questions etc as you go (like your reaction to why on Earth would a character in his right mind do something).  When the topic is discussed in class, either your question will be answered or you can ask it, OR when the professor asks for anyone's thoughts on the topic you can chime up.  It works for math, science and the arts as well.  Professor's enjoy that and will be more open later when you visit their office when not in class...which leads me to..

5.  VISIT with Professors during their office times.  They do not list their office times because the University and Federal Govt. require it, most professors really do want educate/mold minds.  It is their calling and passion.  So take advantage.  Do it DURING the semester, not just the week before an exam when all the people who are struggling/beggin will be taking up their time, if you have made the effort all during the semester, they will MAKE time for you when you have a real problem and take your time more seriously.  AND if you need Professor Recommendations for Grad school, it is alot easier if they know your name.  I got warm fuzzies reading one of mine (they were suppossed to be sealed but the professor wanted me to know what he said) and it mentioned that I cared enough about learning and personal growth which was evidenced by my questions, not in class but during office visits. It may have been a load of bull, but it worked.

6.  Don't commit to a Major too early unless you know for sure what you want to do.  I know alot of people who graduated with as many as 30-40 hours they didn't need because they were too busy changing majors and some hours not counting towards their degree.

7.  The old exam thing is genius.  Especially if it is an area that doesn't change.  A case in point, my Evidence Professor had all of his prior exams on record at the Law Library, everyone was concerned with what he had done before but overlooked a T/F test he had given once 7 years prior.  It was the 1937 (I think) Harvard Law Evidence exam.  My roommate and I brought it to our study group (they all dismissed it as "not worth the time", because who would give a True/False exam in Law School)...when we sat down for the exam....It was IDENTICAL to that one.  My roommate and I had used it as a study/practice guide.

8.  On nights prior to exams (I've been using this trick since High School) don't stay up trying to cram.  Start early and end early.  I firmly believe a good night's sleep is worth 10 points for sure on an exam.  If I am rested and healthy my mind works better.  During College, I found that anything I tried to pick up after 10pm was lost anyway.  But I am and always have been a morning person and gotten sleepy at 10pm no matter how much fun there was to be had, if you are a vampire or possum it may be different for you.

9.  The suggestion to take classes you would ACTUALLY enjoy is also a good one.  IF it fits in your grad plan that is good too.  I ended up taking classes on Western (Cowboy) Artists, Golf, Bowling, WWII Military Tactics, and other stuff that fit in various "Humanities and electives" that were my "FUN" classes per semester.


There you go, more info than you (or anybody) probably wanted...

Offline Nathan

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2005, 03:42 PM »
There's a lot of excellent advice in here. To these guys you listen! :) (Heck, I'm learning something too.)

Even though it's been mentioned repeatedly, I can't stress enough: attend class and be an active participant but don't be a kiss-up/teacher's pet. In my experience, having the professor put a face to your name is key, and you'll learn better if you ask and answer questions instead of hiding in the back and never making a peep.

And something else: try to keep a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day. You can't concentrate if you're groggy (it's also dangerous to drive to & from school if you're commuting), and it's worse when your schedule is all over the map--10 pm one night, 1 am the next night, and so on. Find a pattern that works for you and stick to it as much as possible.
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Offline Rob

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2005, 03:48 PM »
If a professor offers extra credit - do it, no matter what.

It's offen the difference between a letter grade when all is said and done.

Offline Morgbug

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2005, 03:54 PM »


And something else: try to keep a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day. You can't concentrate if you're groggy (it's also dangerous to drive to & from school if you're commuting), and it's worse when your schedule is all over the map--10 pm one night, 1 am the next night, and so on. Find a pattern that works for you and stick to it as much as possible.

I'm still a frickin' vampire, to this day.  I've always hated getting up in the morning from the time I was a kid.  I used to miss all the Saturday morning cartoons.  Sadly many of my university classes were one of a kind (with good reason - who the hell wants to take Chordate Zoology?) and always seemed to be at 8:30 am.  Much pain was involved.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Study Habits
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2005, 09:25 PM »


And something else: try to keep a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day. You can't concentrate if you're groggy (it's also dangerous to drive to & from school if you're commuting), and it's worse when your schedule is all over the map--10 pm one night, 1 am the next night, and so on. Find a pattern that works for you and stick to it as much as possible.

I'm still a frickin' vampire, to this day.  I've always hated getting up in the morning from the time I was a kid.  I used to miss all the Saturday morning cartoons.  Sadly many of my university classes were one of a kind (with good reason - who the hell wants to take Chordate Zoology?) and always seemed to be at 8:30 am.  Much pain was involved.

My earliest class strats at 11am, on Tuesday/Thursday and on MWF I don't start until 1pm. It is quite nice. :)
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