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How to Study

How to Study

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How to Study

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  1. How to Study William J. Rapaport Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Department of Philosophy, Department of Linguistics, and Center for Cognitive Science rapaport@cse.buffalo.edu http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~rapaport

  2. Outline • Manage your time • Take notes in class & re-write them at home • Study hard subjects first, in a quiet place • Read actively & slowly, before & after class • Do your homework • Study for exams • Take exams • Do research & write essays

  3. Introduction • Everyone has a different learning style • “you tell me” (“what are the answers?”) • “we tell each other” (“let’s discuss this”) • “I’ll convince you” (“here’s why I think this is the answer”) • So, everyone has a different studying style • So, my suggestions might not work for you • But they worked for me • So, try them!

  4. 1. Manage Your Time • School is a full-time job, so… • Education > {job for fun, extra-curricular activity} • If you must work, don’t be a full-time student • If education is your full-time job, then spend 40 hrs/wk • 1 academic credit ≈ 1 hour • So, 12 cr ≈ 12 hrs in class; so: 40–12=28 hrs @ home studying • 28/(5 study days/wk) ≈ 5.5 hrs/day ≈ 1.4 hrs/course (4 courses) • Or: 9 cr + 20 hrs assistantship = 20 hrs/wk for courses • So, 9 cr ≈ 9 hrs in class; so: 20–9=11 hrs @ home studying • 11/5 ≈ 2.2 hrs/day ≈ 0.7 hrs/course (3 courses)

  5. 2. Take Notes in Class & Re-write at Home • Take complete notes in class • write as much as possible • forces you to pay attention • keeps you awake (!) • less to remember • use abbreviations • neatness doesn’t count • ask questions & make comments • put in notes, even if not uttered in class • Understand at home • copy class notes at home • don’t just re-read in-class notes • reorganize notes • Don’t take notes on computer • noisy; Internet is too tempting; inconsistent with re-writing • Don’t rely on instructor’s notes or copies of slides • re-write them, too!

  6. 3. Study Hard Subjects First… • Study harder subjects while you’re alert. … & Study in a Quiet Place • Recent finding: • People cannot multi-task successfully!

  7. 4. Read Actively & Slowly,before & after Class • Don’t read passively • think about what you’re reading • Slow-reading algorithm • after each sent., ask “why?” • (next slide)

  8. Slow-Reading Algorithm WHILE there is a next sentence to read, DO: BEGIN (* while *) Read it, SLOWLY; IF you do not understand it, THEN BEGIN (* if *) re-read the previous material, SLOWLY; re-read the incomprehensible sentence, SLOWLY; IF you still don't understand it, THEN ask a fellow student to explain it; IF you still don't understand it, THEN ask your Teaching Assistant (TA) to explain it; IF you still don't understand it, THEN ask me; IF you are in an upper-level course & you still don't understand it, THEN write a paper about it (!) END (* if *) END; (* while *) Since there is no next sentence (because the Boolean test in the WHILE is false), you've understood the text!

  9. 4. Read Actively & Slowly, before & after Class (cont’d.) • Highlight text in margin • don’t paint entire page in day-glow yellow highlighter! • 1st pass: square bracket in margin ] • 2nd pass: double bracket more important material ]] • 3rd pass: underline really important material]] • Write notes in margin • personalize your (own!) text • index your notes • Keep a reading journal • copy important passages (with full citation) • write your comments about it • Read twice: both before & after class

  10. 5. Do Your Homework • Do HW on time • Do it on scrap paper • then copy neatly • Write both problem & solution

  11. 6. Study for Exams • Manage your time • start 1 week before exam • spend 1 hr/day studying • study entire night before exam • final exams: • do nothing else but study! • for E exams over D days, • spend D/E days studying for each exam • Make a study outline & study from that • from re-copied class notes + highlighted text + reading journal • try to fit on 1-2 pages, front only (write small) • Write sample essays or do sample problems • work in a study group • Make “flash cards” (actually: notebook paper, 2 cols): • left column: question • right column: answer • cover R column with blank page; write answers; then check

  12. 7. Take Exams • Read entire exam first. • For essay questions: • do “mind dump” • develop outline • write (or “copy from memory”) • Do easy problems first • Review answers

  13. 8. Do Research & Write Essays • Choose topics carefully • not too broad, not too narrow • Do literature review & research • read slowly & actively • keep reading journal • Make an outline (from reading-journal notes) • top-down design & stepwise refinement • Write, using outline as guide • keep audience in mind • Edit • read your own work slowly & actively • have fellow student/colleague read critically • Manage your time • start early, do a little each day, finish early

  14. Do I Really Have to Do All This? • Yes! • But not necessarily all at once