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Ways to Succeed in Your Chemistry Courses
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- Try to keep an open mind about the course and the professor. Preconceived notions may handicap your ability to learn and be difficult to overcome.
- You need to believe in yourself. You can do almost anything if it is really important to you. Remember that things that are worthwhile are usually not all that easy to accomplish.
- Try to read the assignment before coming to class. This will give you an idea of difficult concepts that will require your full concentration before lecture. It is important to read the assignment even if you do not understand all of what you are reading.
- Write down everything the professor writes on the board. If they take the time and energy to write it down, it probably will be something they think is important and may well show up on a test!
- Listen carefully and focus on what is being discussed. Now is not the time to listen to jokes told by the people around you. People who talk in class are inconsiderate to you and everyone else within hearing distance.
- Tape the lectures if you find that you cannot take notes fast enough. Much of what is said in lecture is almost as important as what is written down on the board.
- After class, recopy or make a detailed outline of your lecture notes as soon as possible while the material is still fresh in your mind.
- You may not understand the concepts immediately. Some concepts require considerable digestion before they become clear. Think about the material for a reasonable amount of time and then if it is still a mystery to you, go to the teacher and have them explain it in another way.
Effective Study Habits
- A 12 credit course load can be considered to be equivalent to a full time job since the average person should study two to three hours for each hour of lecture.
- Time management is essential for success. Small blocks of intense study are almost always better than marathon sessions where you just become tired and stare at the material.
- You should try to take breaks such as doing some exercise or just relax. Do not worry, you will not forget everything you were just starting to learn.
- Alternate the subjects you are studying...this is somewhat like taking a break but obviously not restful.
- Science courses require the learning of very specific information and just reading your lecture notes is, for all intents and purposes, a waste of time. You just cannot learn this type of material by reading.
- We learn best by visualization and we must repeatedly write down the things that we are learning until they are firmly in our minds. Use flash cards to learn important facts and tools. The most effective way to use flash cards is to write down the answer...carefully check your answer and if it is wrong...cross it out and write down the correct answer. Flash cards do not take the place of understanding...they merely provide us with a time effective means to learn the language and tools we need in order to understand.
Working Problem Sets
- If you try to do problems without an adequate knowledge base you will be unsuccessful in your attempt. This will lead you to believe that you are incapable of doing the problems and teach you to accept failure, which should never be acceptable.
- Do not try to learn the material by doing problems. Learn the tools that you need before you attempt to do problems. The problems should build confidence and demonstrate areas that will require a little more study. You should do as many as possible and rework those problems with which you have difficulties.
- There is a definite correlation between the number of problems done correctly and test performance. If you cannot do most of the problems then the test over that material will not be a pleasant experience.
- You must try to get enough sleep. You cannot do your best when tired and even material you really know may be fuzzy if you are not alert.
- Be mercenary...go through the test and answer the easy questions first...then answer those questions that take more time but you know how to do...and finally try to answer those last questions that you know are from the University of Mars.
- Analyze your old tests and if you tend to change correct answers to incorrect answers...then never go back over the questions. If you tend to make careless errors...then definitely go back over the questions.
- Be on time or slightly early for the test...do not arrive really early because it will make you more nervous listening to the other students talk.
- Whatever you do, do not talk to other students in the class. This is one of the most serious causes of panic because they tend to ask you if you understand some topic which may or may not be important but will make you nervous none the less.
- Do not cram at the last minute...take a relaxing walk instead.
- It is important that you keep everything in perspective. Assuming there are several tests, no single test will completely determine your grade. No single passing course grade will ever determine your chances for the career of your choice. The secret of success in all endeavors is focus and intensity!