Below is an overview of study tips and good practices for studying for science courses. You can apply these techniques to your other courses as well, but I have made these suggestions based on my experience with science.
Get yourself organized
- Find yourself a quiet place to study with lots of room to maneuver your books and/ or notes.
- Eliminate distractions (music, TV, Skype, Facebook, etc.) – If you must have music, instrumental / classical is best because you are less likely to burst into song while it is playing.
- Organize your notes and materials so that they are easily accessible on your desk or workstation
- You should try to get an overall view of what to study. This can be done by reviewing the objective sheets.
- Schedule review on a daily basis. Re-read the notes that were given for that day. Cross reference your notes with information and diagrams in the text.
- When reading your textbook make note of any new terms. Keep a list of any new words or terms in a separate notebook labeled by chapter.
- As you read your text answer the questions in the checkpoints. They help you understand what you just read.
- Wherever it is possible try to use memory strategies to help retain information
Pneumonic DevicesSimple ways to remember concepts in science using memory tools. Pneumonic devices take all of part of a word to help recall concepts.
|Example# 1: Remembering the order of taxanomic groups:||Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family Genus, Species|
|Dear King Philip Come Over For Good Soup|
|Example # 2: Remember diatomic Molecules in Chemistry||Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, Iodine|
|Help Our Needy Class Find Brains Immediately|
|Example # 3: Remember basic Trigonometry functions||Sine = Opposite over Hypotenuse, Cosine = Adjacent over Hypotenuse, and Tangent = Opposite over Adjacent.|
|Some Old Hags, Can't Afford Husbands, Till Old Age|
|Example # 4: Remember the order of the 8 planets in our solar system||Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune|
|My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles|
Be Prepared for understanding
- Try to complete all questions in the chapter review. Remember the Interpret, Apply and Critical Thinking questions require more thought and will help you in preparing for higher level questions on tests and exams (like the departmental)
- Worksheets will be given throughout the year. Do the corresponding worksheets as you complete your reading in the text / notes.
- Read labs and try to be prepared the night before the activity is to commence\
- Note: Pass in your work when requested even if it is incomplete. Some marks received for partially completed work are better than no marks at all.
- A binder or folder is essential for keeping a record of handouts and worksheets organized.
- The date should be placed on each sheet to keep it in chronological order. Place your name on all materials because you are responsible for any material given out, so do not lose it.
Methods for studying
Effective studying is not done by simply reading the notes and the book one or two times. You need to be able to go over the material and understand it. In science, memorization is only a small part of what you do. Yes, you need to remember lots of new terms and diagrams, but the other majority of content needs to be retained and understood. For instance, it is not knowing the function of a neuron that is important, but rather how it works in conjunction with other parts of the body to maintain homeostasis. In order retain and learn the material in this way, there are a number of things that you can do.
- Go through the material, find and define all the definitions or key terms
- Sometimes re-writing your notes is good to help refresh the brain with material because you are reading it, and writing the information down.
- Break down the material into in small manageable chunks, either by topic, section in the book, or chapter.
- Study the material in each chunk separately until much of the material is retained, then move on to the next chunk of material.
- Get together with a classmate, dividing the material up between each person. Have each person teach the material that they were responsible for. If you have anything to add, discuss it as you move through each ‘mini-lesson’.
- Talking about the material and teaching it is by far the best way to learn it because you are explaining how stuff works as you work through the study material.
What does not work
- Studying in front of the TV
As much as might think you are multi-tasking, this simply isn’t the case.
- Studying with loud music
Music is often is major distraction; if you are singing along with your favourite song, you are not studying. If you need or like to have music on, classical music or something without words is good to relax to while studying.
- Studying in front of Facebook / cell phone
Yet another distraction. Speaking from experience, Facebook and Twitter is always more interesting than the studying, so just shut it off until you are done studying.
- Speed studying
As much as we would love to read the material over once or twice and know it all, for the majority of us, this is not going to work. We need to read more than once, and often do more than just read over the notes and book in 15 minutes before the information is retained.
- Studying late at night
Going out early in the evening, coming home at 9:00 and studying for an hour or more might seem good in theory. But, think about it, you have been awake all day, busy doing things or at school. At 9:00 PM your brain would much rather be asleep than reading your science notes. The earlier in the day you study, the more effective it will be. You might try going to be early and getting up early to study a day or two before the test or exam.
This is the WORST type of studying there is. You might think you are getting it, but in cramming, you are more likely to lose information than you are to retain it. This is because you’re trying to process too much information at the same time. Spread your studying out, 20-30 minute intervals with a 5 to 10 minute break between each interval. This way your brain has a chance to process the information, and you have a better chance of retaining the information.
- Not studying at all
This is obvious, but while some people can get away with not studying, most of us are not so lucky, and we have to take the time to learn information by studying.