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How to Study in University


DoctorS

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Hey guys, as many others, I will be going to university this year. I am going to be going to McMaster for the Life Science program. I was just wondering how you guys studied in university in order to obtain the high, med school worthy grades. Also, for those of you that went to Mac, do you have any tips on how to get 12s and any other ways to succeed?

 

Thanks!!

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Ultimately you're going to need to devise a system that works for you, but I can certainly provide several tips that may or may not benefit you. I don't do all of these, but this list contains some of the things that myself and my friends do to stay on top of the material.

 

- Do not procrastinate. Keep up to date on your readings.

(Catching up is MUCH harder than keeping up)

 

- Do ALL the homework

 

- Try to read the material before your lecture, it will help you understand it better

 

- Try to make yourself interested in the material you're learning (I've learned to trick myself into making it interesting)

 

- Take notes during class. If your professor is solving a problem, solve it with him/her.

 

- Try to read your textbook with several different highlighters and/or colored pens. Color coded notes are much easier to follow (I use 3-4 highlighters and 1-2 pens)

 

- Think about the material that you are learning, and make connections between different topics whenever possible. Understanding is much more important than memorization.

 

- Go to your professor's office hours. Very few students take advantage of these, and your professor will probably be bored if nobody shows up. This is also an excellent way to work towards a future letter of recommendation!

 

- Don't be afraid to ask questions in class! If you have a question, it's very likely that somebody else does too

 

- Seek out University services if you feel that you need them (ie. tutoring)

 

- Try to go over your lecture material within 24 hours of the lecture. This will help you to retain the information.

 

- Before a midterm/exam, try to re-solve any problems from the lecture. If you are unable to solve a problem, it is much better to have this occur while studying rather than during the test.

 

- Go over your notes as many times as you can. I usually recommend going through the textbook twice, and the notes with whatever time you have left. This one is particularly flexible though, and you'll have to discover what works for you.

 

- Get a study partner. You will keep each other motivated

 

- Try to teach the material to somebody else. If you are unable to teach a concept, then you do not yet have complete mastery of it.

 

 

Well that's all I can think of right now. This list should get you started. If you have any questions you can always send me a PM or reply on this thread. Good luck at Mac!

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My tip would be - start off by doing everything. Go to everything, complete everything, put in all your effort.

 

It's much easier to put in a little less effort when you find you're doing amazingly than it is to motivate yourself to put in tons more effort when you find you're doing badly.

 

I did many of the things above - the only way to find out what works for you is to try everything and slowly refine your technique over time.

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Your first semester will probably be spent adapting and essentially trying to stay alive. My first semester, i spent way too much time re-writing notes (unnecessary) and as a result my grades went down, halfway through the semester I was fighting just to keep an A- average in all my classes (hence the staying alive part), but it was a good learning experience. Do the best you can your first semester, and analyze what you could of done better and should do for the upcoming semesters. Everyone has a different system that works for them.

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Stack of cue cards with all possible facts, questions, answers, dates, equations etc. I like to color code them if they get more complicated (i.e. things that deal with one system are one color, another system are another, etc.).

 

Go through stack many times. As you memorize stuff, remove it from the stack.

 

For classes that are less science and more writing (social science in my experience and also ethics and policy type courses) do the same thing but just type it out - cue cards will be too small.

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Just sit back and relax. Party and hang out with friends a lot and mess up your first year GPA. This way you won't feel like an outsider as many people have horrible first year GPAs. :D

 

Seriously though, above posts are excellent studying strategies. You really need to find the one that works best for you, and this may take some time.

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The people above mentioned great tips! For me the most important factor I found was learning how to study in a library. I never studied in a library during high school so going to university, I didn't start until second semester when a friend took me there. My productivity went up like 10000x and now I can't imagine what studying sans-library would be like! So yeah, utilize the library :)

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see my sig, i also don't procrastinate (i just imagine myself in 2hrs having not accomplished anything, then that usually helps me get down to studying). be comfortable when you study, and in the zone. i do most of my studying for memory at home, but i like to do practice problems in the library.

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Ultimately you're going to need to devise a system that works for you, but I can certainly provide several tips that may or may not benefit you. I don't do all of these, but this list contains some of the things that myself and my friends do to stay on top of the material.

 

- Do not procrastinate. Keep up to date on your readings.

(Catching up is MUCH harder than keeping up)

 

- Do ALL the homework

 

- Try to read the material before your lecture, it will help you understand it better

 

- Try to make yourself interested in the material you're learning (I've learned to trick myself into making it interesting)

 

- Take notes during class. If your professor is solving a problem, solve it with him/her.

 

- Try to read your textbook with several different highlighters and/or colored pens. Color coded notes are much easier to follow (I use 3-4 highlighters and 1-2 pens)

 

- Think about the material that you are learning, and make connections between different topics whenever possible. Understanding is much more important than memorization.

 

- Go to your professor's office hours. Very few students take advantage of these, and your professor will probably be bored if nobody shows up. This is also an excellent way to work towards a future letter of recommendation!

 

- Don't be afraid to ask questions in class! If you have a question, it's very likely that somebody else does too

 

- Seek out University services if you feel that you need them (ie. tutoring)

 

- Try to go over your lecture material within 24 hours of the lecture. This will help you to retain the information.

 

- Before a midterm/exam, try to re-solve any problems from the lecture. If you are unable to solve a problem, it is much better to have this occur while studying rather than during the test.

 

- Go over your notes as many times as you can. I usually recommend going through the textbook twice, and the notes with whatever time you have left. This one is particularly flexible though, and you'll have to discover what works for you.

 

- Get a study partner. You will keep each other motivated

 

- Try to teach the material to somebody else. If you are unable to teach a concept, then you do not yet have complete mastery of it.

 

 

Well that's all I can think of right now. This list should get you started. If you have any questions you can always send me a PM or reply on this thread. Good luck at Mac!

 

 

If you don't mind me asking, how do you trick yourself into finding the courses interesting? That would definitely help me a lot!

I find that I naturally study the subjects more that interest me more, and those that I find hard/boring/tricky I study far less, which is basically where I always run into trouble.

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You find what's interesting in that subject and you build from there on forward. I.e. Organic Chemistry Part 2. I liked the detection mechanisms such as NMR, Mass Spec, and what not. This gave me a momentum and built onwards from there. It's a skill you'll develop after a while. Another way is to relate it to your every day life. Ask yourself, how will this be useful to me? For instance physics, when I get into the highway via a ramp, I know which side i need to turn my tea cup (from tims) so that the opening on the lid is facing towards the centripetal force.

 

A very important skill trait that I believe anyone should incorporate, is to make flow charts. Some courses you can't, like physics and chemistry, but for content intensive courses, it's perfect. All the MDs I work with use flowcharts and diagrams to refer to when they see patients.

 

Hope it helps.

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It's exactly as trojjanhorse said. I find that if I keep telling myself how interesting it is, eventually I'll start to believe it. It definitely helps to think of yourself as somebody that would benefit from this knowledge.

 

My favorite example is how, as a science student, I somehow managed to trick myself into thinking that the feminist perspective on modern language was interesting (trust me, it really isn't).

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  • 1 month later...

Holy some good tips...

 

Ultimately you're going to need to devise a system that works for you, but I can certainly provide several tips that may or may not benefit you. I don't do all of these, but this list contains some of the things that myself and my friends do to stay on top of the material.

 

- Do not procrastinate. Keep up to date on your readings.

(Catching up is MUCH harder than keeping up)

 

- Do ALL the homework

 

- Try to read the material before your lecture, it will help you understand it better

 

- Try to make yourself interested in the material you're learning (I've learned to trick myself into making it interesting)

 

- Take notes during class. If your professor is solving a problem, solve it with him/her.

 

- Try to read your textbook with several different highlighters and/or colored pens. Color coded notes are much easier to follow (I use 3-4 highlighters and 1-2 pens)

 

- Think about the material that you are learning, and make connections between different topics whenever possible. Understanding is much more important than memorization.

 

- Go to your professor's office hours. Very few students take advantage of these, and your professor will probably be bored if nobody shows up. This is also an excellent way to work towards a future letter of recommendation!

 

- Don't be afraid to ask questions in class! If you have a question, it's very likely that somebody else does too

 

- Seek out University services if you feel that you need them (ie. tutoring)

 

- Try to go over your lecture material within 24 hours of the lecture. This will help you to retain the information.

 

- Before a midterm/exam, try to re-solve any problems from the lecture. If you are unable to solve a problem, it is much better to have this occur while studying rather than during the test.

 

- Go over your notes as many times as you can. I usually recommend going through the textbook twice, and the notes with whatever time you have left. This one is particularly flexible though, and you'll have to discover what works for you.

 

- Get a study partner. You will keep each other motivated

 

- Try to teach the material to somebody else. If you are unable to teach a concept, then you do not yet have complete mastery of it.

 

 

Well that's all I can think of right now. This list should get you started. If you have any questions you can always send me a PM or reply on this thread. Good luck at Mac!

 

What would you recommend for this? Like do you mean a certain topic within a chapter is green and another topic is yellow kind of thing or what?

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Holy some good tips...

 

 

 

What would you recommend for this? Like do you mean a certain topic within a chapter is green and another topic is yellow kind of thing or what?

 

Well, everyone has their own system when it comes to something like that. I suppose I can give you my system if you want, but keep in mind that this is just what works for me.

 

Highlighters:

 

Yellow - General

Pink - Key Term

Orange - Definitions, Important things, Names

Blue - Exception

 

Pens:

Blue - Solutions to Problems

Red - Notes

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Well, everyone has their own system when it comes to something like that. I suppose I can give you my system if you want, but keep in mind that this is just what works for me.

 

Highlighters:

 

Yellow - General

Pink - Key Term

Orange - Definitions, Important things, Names

Blue - Exception

 

Pens:

Blue - Solutions to Problems

Red - Notes

 

Yeah obviously everyone is different, i just wanted to make sure that's what you meant.

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Yeah obviously everyone is different, i just wanted to make sure that's what you meant.

 

Yeah, you'll just have to figure out what works for you. It's a continual learning process. I started out with just a yellow highlighter at the beginning of 1st year, but I slowly added more and more things until my textbooks started to look like a coloring book.

 

Edit: This might not be practical if you ever want to sell your books. I've kept all of my textbooks, so this was never an issue for me.

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If there is one piece of advice that I could give someone it would be to always stay on top of the material. All hell breaks loose when you start to delay things.

 

+1. Very good advice.

 

Also, take care of yourself. Make time to exercise (whatever that is for you - walking, intramurals, fitness classes, yoga, cycling - anything that you enjoy) and to eat healthy! Fuel your brain properly, so you have the energy to study and do well.

 

Make use of the resources your university has available. If there are seminars, handouts, workshops, etc. on study skills, writing for different disciplines, stress managements - go to the ones that you feel will be most useful to you! At Guelph there is an entire "Centre for First Year Students" with all kinds of resources to help first year students succeed. If your university has something similar, check it out.

 

Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Go to see your profs and/or TAs during their office hours if you need help. That's why they are there (as long as you don't show up at the last minute - so start projects and assignments early). If you have health problems, go to health services. If you are struggling mentally or emotionally, make use of peer counsellors, counselling services, or whatever other resources are available.

 

Don't take on too much in the first semester (or first year) but find one organization, club or activity that you really care about and participate in that. There will be time afterwards to expand your interests, but just pick one to start and use it to meet people and have some fun.

 

It may take a bit of time, but find out what study methods work best for which courses. For example, biochemistry and physiology (although second year courses) required a LOT of time. There was a lot of memorization involved, in addition to a lot of understanding and integration of concepts. The understanding and integration came easily for me - the memorization much less so. So I had to spend lots and lots of time making cue cards and memorizing all the things that had to be memorized! Calculus, statistics and microeconomics, however, required much less work. I've always been good at math - it comes very naturally - so all I had to do was attend class and tutorials, do the assignments, and do sample exams, in order to do well in math-based classes.

 

Also, make notes in a way that works best for you. A lot of people take notes on their laptops, but that's never worked for me. I take notes the "old fashioned" way, with pen and paper. I seem to learn and retain the material better when I take notes by hand, as opposed to typing things out. Typing is usually faster for many people, so it may be better in courses where you need to get a lot of information down quickly. I've found, however, that in most classes, profs post plenty of material ahead of time, and you simply need to annotate their notes or powerpoints. For that, taking notes by hand is just as efficient. Also, for courses with a lot of equations, diagrams, etc., taking notes by hand may work better than using a laptop, unless you have a true tablet PC that allows you to draw, write out equations, etc.

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I've gotten to a point now where I hear myself when I say "Just skip over this part" when I'm studying my notes. Sometimes you say it in your head and completely don't take notes on one part, or don't study them when they're there, and once you start putting 100% into EVERYTHING, you'll notice when you're attempting to ignore one part of the notes! DO NOT SKIP ANYTHING. Don't let yourself me lazy. I think that changing this small habit of mine contributed to better grades in every one of my classes!

 

When it came to memorization-heavy courses (I only had one last semester, Anatomy and Physiology), I made crazy notes. It was time-consuming (I probably spent an hour each evening working on making them from that day's class) but so worth it. In a class where the average was a 60%, I managed an A+. The thing that really worked for me was I would go home, go over each and every powerpoint slide from the day's class, and make questions based on every bit of information they offered. Then come test time, I would quiz and re-quiz myself on those questions. For example, a slide says "Cerebrospinal fluid is produced by choroid plexuses lining the ventricles, and is located in the ventricles, the subarachnoid space, and surrounding the CNS." So I would write down "Where is CSF produced? By choroid plexuses in the ventricles" and "Where is CSF found? blahblahblah" Again, time consuming, but totally worth it for me. Find what works for you!

 

Study every day, just a little. Develop the habit of working consistently in small chunks, rather than staying up all night the day before a test or assignment and working for 10 hours straight. Even if there's no test coming up, re-read all of your notes or powerpoint slides from that day after classes are over. This not only saves you time when the tests do come up because you've been studying consistently, but it ingrains the information more and it gets you in the habit of just doing things, rather than procrastinating. This might not work for everyone but it works for many more people than they expect, so give it a try: When I write essays, I start the day it's assigned, but I only write an outline on day one. Maybe it takes half an hour at the most. The next day, I only write the first paragraph, and so on. It breaks it down so I feel like I've barely looked at it, but it gives me so much more time to think things out, edit, reword, whatever. I do this with most assignments now, actually! And there's never any stress of not having enough time to articulate exactly what you want to!

 

"Work hard, play hard!" Bust your ass and do your best, but reward yourself and keep balanced as much as possible! I study hard every day of the week so that when Saturday rolls around, I can go out and party with my friends without feeling guilty at all because I know I've studied enough throughout the week that I can afford a night off. Set aside time to do things you love, as well- I have an hour or two a week to go to karate, I'm starting going to the gym, take piano lessons. Do things that are good for your body and your mind outside of school :)

 

This is nerdy, but when I wake up on a school day, I tell myself "Today is going to be an A day!" I remind myself to put the kind of effort into everything I do that would help me toward an A. Even if I'm in clinical that day working at the hospital (I'm in nursing school), I remind myself to treat every decision and every minute's attitude as if I were going to be graded on it, even though it's non-graded credits.

 

For quizzes: this one should be obvious but I only just started doing it- ALWAYS RE-READ YOUR QUIZ BEFORE HANDING IT IN!!! Double check every question because a lot of the time you misread a question originally and answered it wrong, or you put B when you meant to put C!

 

Also, go through the test a couple of times: if it's multiple choice and I get to any questions I don't immediately know the answer to (can't answer in 5-10 seconds), I circle it and go back to it. At the end, I often have five or ten questions I couldn't figure out originally, but when I go back to them a second time they seem to make much more sense. Getting stuck on one or two questions is a waste of time and can be panic-inducing. Don't panic, just skip it, finish the rest of the test, then go back :) Having a second look can make the answer much clearer than just staring at it for ten minutes!

 

 

Finally, there are always classes that you're going to think are completely stupid and irrelevant to anything. I had one class that everyone claimed was the worst class ever, and I agreed- it was so boring and pointless. But I made an effort to learn just one thing every class. I told myself that if I could learn one thing each class, it would be worth it to go to the class and not skip like most people. And you know what? I always found one thing. It did end up being worth it to attend. It's all about attitude, man: if you think you won't learn anything, you won't. But if you really try hard and search hard for some kind of meaning and learning in each experience, you'll find it!

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