Saturday, May 13, 2006

Take advantage of all available resources

In studying or test-preparation you should see what options you have to get an upper hand in performing better. Most of these choices are little shortcuts that will make your studying go a lot more smoothly.

Old tests
At a higher level of education, the format of the test and phrasing of questions becomes increasingly difficult and can be a barrier to performing . I don’t mean that the content is not important, it always is; however, if you aren’t used to a particular way a professor phrases questions or a radically different testing format, then it can throw you off.

Furthermore, as I have mentioned earlier, I love the idea of testing yourself in order to perform better. The idea of using old tests in order to quiz yourself seems perfect.

As a word of caution though, there are two things to be aware of: 1) The material taught from year to year can change, so the focus of the test can change. This means that you might not be tested on the proper material for some sections. 2) The idea of obtaining previous years’ exams may seem like cheating to some – if they aren’t already offered by the university. Frankly, I see no problem with obtaining previous years exams if you can, it is just another method of studying. However, if you’d like to discuss it, comment below or email me (the address is on the right sidebar).

Discussion Boards
Many universities offer course websites with associated discussion boards where students can exchange information, questions and answers regarding the course content. Take full advantage of this service. You can read other people’s questions, because maybe you haven’t thought of a problem in a certain way. If you have a question that you don’t want to ask the professor directly, try this – sometimes the professor or teacher’s assistants will reply. This reminds me that you should try asking your professor some questions after a lecture or during their office hours. I will say that most of them in my experience are willing to help out any student as along as they are eager to learn and have tried to answer the question beforehand.

Once again, another word of caution: With peer responses, take them with a grain of salt. Sometimes people like saying answers that sound good, but aren’t correct – not necessarily through any ill will, they just don’t know better.

Internet searches
Maybe you were wondering why I chose that picture to start this entry off. It’s from . I am very big on independent learning. I have found that the internet has a wealth of knowledge for anyone who wants it. And by the picture you can see that Google is my search engine of choice.

If you want to learn to play the guitar: Search for "guitar lessons".
If you want to know about Fermat’s Last Theorem, just search for "Fermat’s Last Theorem".

Wikipedia deserves a mention, simply because it is so amazing. There are entries on very widely varying topics. May I recommend a look at the entry for Snowclone, because I think it’s interesting (it doesn’t relate to this at all though).

Hopefully, your friends will be willing to help you out occasionally if you need some help with academics and you should be willing to do the same. Don’t be too shy about it, just ask. You’ll be able to judge by their reaction whether you will be asking again. :P

I’d like you guys to remember something though: If someone helps you out, you should try to repay them. Teaching/helping someone can take a lot of effort or time – as many of you, and myself, know. Anything is fine, coconut cream pies, drinks, etc. Taking without giving doesn’t really work out in the end.

Textbooks and associated learning tools
Queerly enough, people are willing to shell out 50-200 dollars for a textbook and be perfectly content using it as a paperweight. There is probably a reason that it is required reading for your course. Try using it once in a while. It will help further clarify lessons and usually the diagrams really make things easier to grasp.

These days, many textbooks come with CDs or additional books, etc. You should see what help these supplements can provide, you may be surprised.

And if I know one thing about professors, it’s that they are a tricky bunch. If they don’t mention the textbook, there will still definitely be questions directly from the book on it. Unless they specifically say that you don’t need to read the textbook, there will be questions from it. A little sneaky, I know; that average isn’t pushing itself down though…

There are many other resources that I’m sure I’ve omitted – feel free to add them to the comments below – but I hope you get the point. Use all the resources you have around you to get a little more of an edge in learning – every little bit will help.

If you enjoyed this post, maybe you'll enjoy the others. Please bookmark this page (Ctrl-D) or check out the archive/categories to the right. Better yet, tell a friend!

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At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Damien Tanner said...

I strongly suggest obtaining past exams as well. Class will teach you about the subject, but not always what the examiners are after. For the past two years my revision has been solely doing past exams, marking them, and then looking up on anything I didn't get right. It also saves time by not revising stuff you already know. This method has got me from C to A in all subjects :)

At 2:46 PM, Blogger *ellie* said...

josh, i owe you about 100 drinks and a gazillion coconut cream pies. take me up on my offer when you get back to k-town


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