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Study Skills

How to Study for Higher Marks

Here are some tips for preparing for tests and exams.

Start early - at least a week before the exam or test. Check with your physics tutor to make sure he or she is available during this critical time. Schedule  a meeting with your study group. Allocate time for the following tasks. 

1. Complete assignments and readings that have not yet been completed.

2. Before attempting problem-solving, firm up any conceptual areas in which you feel weak. Review your readings in those areas and answer the following about your reading:     a. What is the main idea in your own words.     b. List and define important terms.     c. Explain clearly the concept in your own words.     d. Draw a figurative representation of the main idea.     e. If you still don't understand something, list questions that you need answered and discuss them with your physics tutor.

3. For each unit, summarize your notes into a well organized annotated outline. (Simply reading notes is ineffective.) Write main ideas, definitions, and equations. For the equations define the units, meaning of each variable, and describe the conditions under which the equation applies and conditions under which the equation does not apply. Do not take the time to write all the possible rearrangements of the equation - you'll burn out. Using your course syllabus as a guideline is a good idea. Talking through the main ideas and comparing notes within your study group is a good way to ensure you have captured all the main concepts and summarized them correctly.

4. For each unit redo example problems. Actually put pen to paper to write out the complete solution - just reading is ineffective. Start with problems that gave you difficulty on assignments or tests, then sample problems given to you by the prof or in your readings. If you have more time do as many practice problems as you can from Physics 24/7's physics homework help.

5. Ask your prof for old exams and write them (reading alone is ineffective). Writing old exams enables you to get accustomed to the prof's style, and tests your preparation. Be aware that one exam rarely covers the entire course. The exam you will write is not likely to be the same as the old exams. List the questions you don't know how to do and discuss them with your physics tutor.

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