STEM Study Strategies

Homework & Study Strategies

With math, science, and the applied math fields it is not enough to understand the material only in your head or to think you understand it. You need to know the material well enough to solve any problem without hesitation.

Knowing the material involves “DOING” the problems.

Good studying consists of learning the rules, trouble spots, and practicing the examples. Studying is not simply paging through the book and working random problems or making no notes on the reading. Do are at least try all of the study tips below to see what works best for you:

  • Participate in or form a study group. This strategy can be one of the most important if the study group is well-organized, meets regularly, and follows a study agenda. Look at the BreakThru module on forming a successful study group.
  • Rewrite your class notes. Transcribing into electronic form makes them searchable and sharable with other students or your study group.
  • Review the textbook material and notes regularly.
  • Write down the first line of an example problem, close your book, and work as much of the problem as you can. Then start over and repeat the process four to five times until you can do the example without hesitation all the way through. Repetition and DOING is the key to learning math. Continue this process with all other example problems. Identify the difficult areas for further review.
  • Always write down each step when working a math problem that is contained within the text book or that are assigned. If you do not understand how to do a problem, follow these pointers:
    • Color code problems. Color all positive signs one color and negative signs another. This will make it easier to avoid confusion in later steps and when you review.
    • Make up note cards for rules, hard to remember concepts, new vocabulary, etc.
    • Become literate in the use of a graphing calculator. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
  • Getting behind in math or science is the fastest way to fail. These subjects are so data dense, that you will have a very difficult time catching up. DO NOT fall behind. If you feel you are unprepared for class or haven’t done the reading, these are warning signs that you are or may be falling behind.
  • Plan for at least two hours of study time per class hour. Take as much time as needed to do all the homework and get a complete understanding of the material. Remember, the more challenging the material, the more time you will need to spend with it.