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Tips for Studying

Date: 06/02/2001 at 16:28:09
From: Bambi
Subject: Studying!

I really need help! I'm in grade 8, so this is the first year of exams 
for me, and I don't know how to study. 

Help me, please?

Date: 06/03/2001 at 13:57:36
From: Doctor Ian
Subject: Re: Studying!

Hi Bambi,

Usually when you have a test, it's going to be about what you've been
learning recently.  For example, if you just finished chapter 5 in the 
book, then the test will almost certainly be about the material in 
chapter 5. 

So the way you study for the test is to read through chapter 5 and 
make sure that you can answer all of the practice questions at the end 
of each section. If you can answer those, then you'll probably be able 
to answer any question on the test. 

Now, here's the thing: If you wait until the night before the test to 
try to learn the material, it's probably not going to work. A better 
way to use your book would be this: If your teacher is going to talk 
about section 6.3 tomorrow, you should read that section tonight and 
try to answer all the practice questions. If you can answer them all, 
then you can just treat the next day's class as a review session. But 
if you can't answer them all, then the next day in class you can ask 
the teacher to go over the ones you couldn't do - which shouldn't be a 
problem, since that's the material he or she is supposed to be 
covering anyway. 

Trust me, knowing ahead of time what the teacher is going to say makes 
class a _lot_ less frustrating - and quite a bit more interesting.  
(It's a little like when you see a movie again - the second time 
around, you already know what will turn out to be significant, so you 
can notice all kinds of details that escaped you the first time 

And this way, when the time for a test rolls around, you'll know that 
you already _know_ all the material, so you won't _need_ to study, 
except perhaps to go back through the chapter and make sure you can 
still work the practice problems. 

I'm going to tell you a secret, and if you take it seriously, I can
guarantee that school will become at least ten times easier for you, 
for as long as you continue in school.  The secret is this:  Never 
walk into a classroom without knowing ahead of time what the teacher 
is going to say! If you have a textbook or a reading list, read the 
relevant part _before_ each lecture, rather than hearing it for the 
first time in the lecture. 

This _sounds_ like a lot of extra work, but it's not.   Suppose you 
have lectures A, B, and C that cover reading material a, b, and c.  
Most students would do this:

  Listen to A; read a; listen to B; read b; listen to C; read c.

I'm suggesting that you do this instead:

  Read a; listen to A; read b; listen to B; read c; listen to C. 

As you can see, it's the same amount of work.  Only the order is 
different. And the reason the order is so crucial is the one I've 
already mentioned: If you don't understand something in the reading 
material, you can ask about it in the lecture where the material is 
covered, which is no extra trouble for the teacher. But if you try to 
ask a question about yesterday's material in today's lecture, the 
teacher will be impatient to move on, and it's likely that you won't 
get the answer you need, if you get one at all. 

I hope this helps. Write back if you'd like to talk about this some 
more, or if you have any other questions. 

- Doctor Ian, The Math Forum   
Associated Topics:
Middle School About Math

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