How to Succeed in a Science Class:
This information is suggested as a guide. It should be used to improve your studying habits. These techniques work very well for most classes, especially science classes. None of these ideas are any more important than any other but the more of them you use, the more likely you are to succeed.
What We Learn:
- 10% of what we hear
- 15% of what we read
- 20% of what we see and hear
- 40% of what we discuss
- 80% of what we experience and practice
- 90% of what we attempt to teach
What to do Before Class:
- Read or at least scan the textbook material BEFORE you come to class.
- Many teachers will go through the chapter in the same order as the book. Knowing about how far they get in one class, you can make a good guess as to what they will cover that day. When you read a section for the first time, you might not understand it all. That is not the goal. The point is to get a feel for the material such that when the teacher lectures on it, you have some idea about what they are talking about, and this will make the lectures MUCH more productive for you. Reading the chapter AGAIN after lecture is a good idea as well, emphasizing the same sections your instructor did.
- Make sure you have all the appropriate materials needed for class.
- Be realistic about expectations for yourself!
What to do While you are in Class:
- Don't tolerate the distractions of other students. Direct your attention to receiving and absorbing the information.
- Ask for clarification whenever the material is unclear.
- Take organized, clear notes. Note taking is how you will gather the information you need to study. Notes provide the major source of information to study for exams.
- Be alert and on time. Regular attendance is a sign of a serious student.
- Pay attention whenever the teacher references the exam or describes parts of the exam.
- Pay attention to announcements, dates and deadlines.
- Demonstrate that you are responsible for your own learning. Search for your own answers first and then ask questions when information is not clear. Many have the same questions but are afraid to ask. Get involved.
- Ask questions in class when you aren't clear on something. Teachers respect good questions and use them as feedback to see how well students are getting the material.
What to do After Class:
- Re-read your notes the same day. Make sure that you got everything and didn't miss something important. This gives you an opportunity to put the entire day's class 'together', since the memory of the actual class is still in your mind. If you wait a couple of days before looking at your notes, you won't remember the class and you will be relying on your notes alone, instead of your memory.
- Re-write your notes in a condensed form. This is best done right after you have re-read your notes. Condense your notes into a smaller space (short and sweet). It has the concepts (in YOUR words) that you need to understand. These will make great study sheets for the exam.
- Look at the problems soon after you have done one in class. Each day after class, look at the back of the chapter and find the types of problems you did that day in class. Do those problems then; don't wait until right before the exam, because there are too many problems to do in a short amount of time. If you do them that day, you will still have the method in your mind.
What to do with the Help of Your Teacher:
The teacher knows the material that you are trying to learn, and more importantly, the test. Your teachers chose to teach at Big Lake High School for a reason, they like to teach. They all have the same desire to help you learn new and interesting material. No teacher dislikes students who come for help; it shows that you care about the material and your success.
The purpose of the meeting with your teacher is to better understand the material. Prepare for your meeting by having:
- Reviewed your notes and textbook up to that point to identify issues that you don't clearly understand.
- Written down three or four good questions, such as a point needing clarification, potential topics for a paper or presentation, questions about the most effective ways to study the material, etc.
- If you do contact your teacher, have a clear purpose for this communication.
- Write down your questions.
- Ask your teacher for studying tips. Don't wait until the end of the semester.
- Talk with the teacher to find a time to meet. Remember that teaching is not your teacher's only responsibility. Don't expect that he or she will always be available at your convenience.
How to Study:
Find a place to study that is free of interruptions and distractions. This is necessary to master information.
Establish your own behavior patterns of what, when, where and how much to study. Establish your own directives, or discuss other's suggestions. Use what others have found helpful. Don't be afraid to ask for help and seek encouragement from your classmates.
Develop your own study rules and stick to them. You must motivate and remind yourself. You must establish your own study times, listen to lectures actively, conscientiously do the lab exercises, etc.
Study in 1 hour blocks
The amount you need to study for a class differs from person to person. You never want to study in blocks longer than 1 hour. If you sit with a textbook for 4 hours, you will gain information during the first hour; after that your brain leaves. After an hour, take a break. You can spend 10 minutes drinking a pop, talking to your friend about the weather, whatever, just don't study. Your brain can only handle 50-60 minutes of work, then it needs a break. After a break, go back and focus.
How to begin
Every time you sit down, quickly overview all of the material then choose what needs your most attention. Figure out what you don't know and concentrate time on that. Then return to what comes easier. Keep practicing each day or you will lose information.
The only way to learn is repetition. After you initially memorize information and do nothing to reinforce it, within 24 hours after you have been exposed to the information you will have only about 35% of the memorized information. Only about 10% remains after an additional 24 hours.
Teach someone else or pretend to; study with a partner; re-do drawings; write memory songs/poems; link with applications; study in a group; get a tutor; draw it; symbolize it; write it out; speak the words out loud; explain in sequence a list of events; make a little story out of the information; make flash cards for terms or symbols. Imagine what questions you would ask if you were the professor. Learn the new terms and symbols. Relate the information to what you already know or to experiences you have had. Teach someone in your family and have them quiz you. Find the techniques for study that work best for you and make time to focus on those.
Study in groups
Find fellow members of your class to study with, not necessarily your friends. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. In a good study group, for every concept there is usually someone who understands that concept. Your strength might be someone else's weakness. If you can explain a concept to someone, then (and only then) do you understand it yourself. Study groups work best with 4-6 people.
Exams with problems to solve
When studying, look at potential exam problems and mentally solve the problems. After all, this is what you are going to have to do during an exam, since you have a time crunch. Don't pick up a pen until you know exactly what you are going to do. Know the steps you will do in what order, what information you need and what equations. When doing chapter problems (as well as exam problems) method is the important thing.
Make your study time as uninterrupted as possible. Pick a good time. Keep stocked up on things you need so there is no reason to interrupt your studies. Use the same place. Be efficient with your time. Study in seclusion, (when the kids are at school). Turn off the phone, TV etc. Put away all other distractions. Even make it a luxury for yourself. Every time you get interrupted, you lose information. Make a regular study area - no clutter around you.
Develop a method of testing yourself to make sure you are retaining information. (Index cards, study notes, study tapes.)
Be realistic about expectations for yourself!
Other Factors Affecting Learning:
- Make time for exercise. The time it takes will be compensated for by increasing your ability to learn when you sit down to study. Exercise reduces stress. Reduction of stress will help your immune system fight off illness. Better fitness increases oxygen supply to the brain.
- Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep. Your brain files information away during REM sleep therefore REM sleep is essential. A regular pattern of sleep each night is also critical.
- Use planners (write everything in it). Prioritize: 1 = things that must get done, 2 = what you should get done and 3 = what can be done at other times. Do the unpleasant things in the morning and get them out of the way.
- Keep a positive attitude. An education is a gift to you.