Joe's Study Tools & Tips

Study Tools
The following are suggestions to help you do well in my class and, hopefully, in all your classes. If you are doing VERY well in your college career, stick to what is working for you. If you are not doing as well as you would like, give these suggestions a chance. Maybe you will find one or two ideas that will work for you. Maybe you will find that they all work. The important thing is to find what works for YOU.
Reading: Divide the number of pages you have to read by the number of days you are giving yourself to read.
Day One: 1. Skim the reading. By skimming, I mean read the first sentence of each paragraph. In textbooks, the first sentence is usually the topic sentence. It tells what the rest of the paragraph is about. Your reading is to prepare you for the exam. Questions are on the exam. As you read the topic sentences, make them into questions.
2. Now read the pages. By making the topic sentences into questions, you are answering those questions when you read. You will be surprised to find how often topic sentences find their way onto exams. Ooops, I’m not supposed to tell you that. Don’t tell anyone.
Day Two: 1. Skim the reading from the first day (see above).
\ 2. Skim the second day’s reading.
3. Now read the second day’s reading.
Day Three 1. Skim first and second day’s readings
2. Skim day three’s reading
3. Read day three’s reading
Even when you finish a chapter, do not hit the mental delete button. Continue to skim previously read chapters.
Identifications: Make a list of people, places, and events from the reading. Prepare identifications from that list in the following two sentence format.
Sentence one: Use this sentence to answer the “journalism questions”: Who, what when where. Tell who the person was (King of France), when he lived (for me, the correct quarter century is close enough for European History, the correct decade for U.S.), where he lived.
Sentence two: To make the book weigh less than fifty pounds, the author had to leave a lot of important people out. Om this sentence, tell why the author put this person in the book. What is it that made him or her so important?
Like the essay format, unless you are told differently by other professors, this is a good format to use in all classes.
Make the list up as you go along. Do not wait until the weekend before the exam. Each day, spend some time reading each of the i.d.’s you have written. It will help you remember if you read them aloud.
Lectures: I know that you have all been told the keys to what you should write in your notes. Voice inflection of instructor, if the instructor repeats something, if the instructor says “write this down”, if the instructor writes something on the board or overhead or computer, if you think it is important.
I disagree with these “hints” I have specific reasons for disagreeing with each of the “hints”, but it all boils down to with each of them you are playing a guessing game with the teacher. What if you think something is not important enough to write in your notes, but the teacher thinks it is important enough to be put on the exam? My suggestion is not to guess with the instructor. Try to write everything down. In my classes, because of time limitations in the semester, I cannot tell you everything I think you really need to know. Therefore, I have to leave important things out of the lecture. If I have to leave important things out…. See what I mean?
As soon as possible after each class, type your lecture notes into your computer. This helps memory and also helps you to find gaps in your notes or something that you are not certain of. Now, get to class early to ask the instructor.
Each day before the class, read your lecture notes from the class before. This will help with continuity of each lecture. Also, repetition helps to remember. Each day read all of the previous class notes. The more times you can do this the better you will remember what was said by the instructor. The better you can remember the better you will do on the exam. Again, if you can read your lecture notes aloud, you will remember better.
D. Preparing for exams:
Form a study group. I know, this is difficult for online classes, but it CAN be done. You should definitely do it for you in-person classes. Students in law school and medical school do it to get through. There must be a reason. I taught with a professor who said “cooperation means graduation”. Plus, forming study groups is a great way to meet new people and find new friends.
Skim each of the chapters
Read each of the chapters.
Read over your class notes as often as possible.
Practice writing your identifications. As you can do them correctly without looking, cross them off your list. Don’t keep practicing what you already know.
If the professor gives you possible essay questions, make an outline for each one. GO over the outlines until you can do them without looking.
When you study, think in terms of questions. Use as many of your senses as you can. One of the keys to memory is “see it, say it, write it. Do them all. And do them as often as you can. You learn by repetition. Make a pathway to the information in your brain. The way you make a path is by going back and forth often.
Start your preparation for exams the first day of each class. That is when you start making that mental path. Three or four days before the exam, start your heavy preparation. If you have prepared well from day one, the day before the exam should be a light study day. It should be like the light practice the day before a football game or the couple of days before a big track meet. Light review to build your confidence. Remember, start your preparation the first day of class. Then there is no need for cramming or panicking. You will know that you are ready.
Again, I want you to do well in my class and in all of your classes. I k now that you can be “A” students. For some of you it will be easier than for others. For some of you some classes will be easier for you than other classes. In those classes that come harder for you, the way you prepare becomes more important. I feel that part of our responsibility as teachers is to give you the tools to do well in our courses. You do not necessarily use the same tools in a Chemistry class as you do in a History class. I have given you the tools to do well in my classes. I hope that these tools are sound enough to help you in all of your classes. If you find that something I have suggested helps you, please let me know.