Doing Well in a Math, Science, or Engineering Course
The bane of many students is math or science. When students struggle in these courses, it’s generally because they don’t know how to study for problem-based courses. In reality, any student can do well in math or science courses if they are smart about how they study.
Common mistakes that students make in math/science courses are as follows:
- Students don’t learn in class. They copy down what’s presented in class but there’s very little that’s understood.
- Students end up teaching themselves how to do the problems using the notes they got from class.
- Students prepare for tests by massive cram sessions a day or two before the test.
- Students view homework as something to do. Often they will get solutions from an answer book they buy on line. The homework has minimal value as a learning tool.
The best way to do well in a math/science course is as follows:
- Learn in class. See the Taking Notes- Math/Science/Engineering Classes. Use your class time to try to understand the material.
- Before you do your homework, watch the Khanacademy.org video that pertains to the material that was covered in class. This way, you will have another chance to learn the material.
- Do your homework in a study group. Each member of the group should do a problem and then teach it to others in the group. You learn a lot more by teaching others.
- Start preparing for a test one week in advance by spending one hour a day going over problems and key terms and concepts. Prepare a cheat sheet for the class (see the topic Preparing a cheat sheet) as you study.
- Increase study time to 3-4 hours a day on the two days prior to the test. Focus your time on doing problems and reviewing terms and concepts.
- Do a practice test under test conditions. Your teacher may have old tests or you can find them from students who have been in the class before. Koofers.com also has tests you can use to prepare.
- In the minutes prior to the test, listen to music rather than going over class material. When you go over material at the last minute, you will more than likely just confuse yourself.
- Do the questions first that you are most confident of. That way you can build momentum.
- Set a time limit for every question. The worst thing you can do is to leave some questions blank.
- Develop a process of checking your answers. Many problems have a way to confirm your answer or eliminate some answers on multiple choice questions.
- If you have time, rework the problems you are not confident on. Reworking a problem is a better way to check your work than simply going over your work.
Students who have used the above strategies will generally raise their grade by at least one letter grade..