Compiled by Daryl Stephens, ETSU Developmental Studies
In the spring semester of 1999, I asked my classes
to write a few paragraphs about what study habits they used that
worked--and what didn't work. Here is a compilation of
representative responses, usually in their own words (with some
minor editing for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and avoiding some
Since these come from different students, some of
the advice may be contradictory. What works for one person may or
may not also work for you.
What Works For Me?
- Do the homework and take notes in class.
- I used the practice tests on the Web site.
- I purchased the tutorial program that works with our
- It proved to be very helpful when I did not grasp a concept
from class and I could not get it out of the text.
- When I kept up with the homework it was easier to study for
- Even when you couldn't finish all the homework a few problems
from each section is helpful to being able to work them on the
- Looking at the examples in the book really seems to
- The thing that really helped me was the sample tests that
were on the Internet.
- I'd work those problems and se if I got them right.
- I would really pay attention in class and take good notes and
write down a lot of examples. Also I'd look in the book for
examples and notes.
- I would do my homework and then a friend and I would compare
- The student's solutions book shows how to do the problems
step by step. It also helped me to do all the homework.
- Go over the notes each day after class. That way it will be
fresh in your mind.
- If I didn't understand in class, I would go to the teacher's
office and ask for help.
- Doing the quizzes helped prepare me for the test and were
also useful to look back on for the final exam.
- If you have a question, ask about it. Ask the instructor or
- I learned more from coming to class than the book.
- If all else fails, get a tutor.
- The number one rule is to GO TO CLASS. I've got a lot of
friends who didn't show up to class too much and failed their
classes. Take your school work seriously.
- Every day I practiced math for at least one hour.
- Math isn't as hard as I made it!
- Remember your order of operations. I recently discovered
state dependent learning. For example, I drink a lot of coffee
when I study. The caffeine is a natural stimulant and increases
blood flow to the heart. It stimulates your ability to receive
information and store it better. The day of the test I again
drink coffee and it therefore puts my mind in the same state of
mind as when I was studying. The information that was stored is
- Working through a difficult problem more than once is
beneficial because at some point it suddenly comes to light how
it works. To me knowing how a problem works makes other ones like
it easier because then it makes sense, rather than simply
- I'm a firm believer that math is logical, therefore I have to
learn the steps and work through them until it is a logical
series of steps.
- If you don't really understand, find some kind of tutoring or
at least start a study group and work on math together.
- I had to accept the fact that I have to set aside time for
doing problems whether I want to or not.
- I found it helpful to do the homework, because I found out
that most of the homework was a lot harder than the actual
problems on the test.
- What did me the most good was a relaxation technique that a
friend of mine shared with me. [I wish she'd shared it on her
paper!--DLS] So I was able to deal with the stress I always feel
because I am so intimidated by math. I did not "freeze" on any
test (that is, turn in a blank test as I did twice last
semester), and I was much more confident in my ability to succeed
in this class.
- I went to the Math Lab whenever I could.
- Check homework answers in the back of the book and then
correct your mistakes.
- When I study I like to rewrite the problems, and if I run
into a step I don't understand I look it up in my notes for
examples. Then I rewrite the problem with another example.
- First, you have to want to learn it.
- Be consistent. Go to class every day if humanly possible. If
you are there every day, you will not miss extra credit quizzes
or exercises in class. This not only helps your grade, but also
helps get more practice.
- Work with a friend. What you don't know your friend usually
does and vice-versa.
- You have to want to do well to make it work.
- The math problems I have trouble working, I ask my teacher
about, because the more I work them wrong the more confused I
- When studying for a test, I rework all my quizzes from the
chapter, redo the homework assignments, and do the review our
teacher gives us a couple of times. Then I rewrite the problems
using different numbers, but the same formula or method of
solving. I change them slightly, so I don't recognize the answers
right away, which reworking one problem several times will
- "Practice makes perfect" isn't just words, it's the
- I think going to the math lab has boosted my grade by thirty
or forty points.
- Don't listen to what other people say, such as "the teacher
won't help you" or "there is no one in the Math Lab to help." Ask
for yourself. Find out for yourself. Get help as soon as you get
- Don't be afraid to ask questions, especially if you don't
understand a step.
What Doesn't Work?
- The largest thing that hurt my performance was that I hardly
did any amount of homework.
- I missed a class and it was difficult to catch up.
- I know now not to sit right beside a window where there's a
lot going on outside because I can't pay attention to what's
going on in class. There are a lot of distractions that way.
- The few times that I slacked on my assignments and only did
the work in class time showed on my quiz grades.
- Going to the math lab and getting a tutor didn't help me
because they had different styles, and I ended up more confused
- I could tell a BIG difference between when I did my homework
and when I didn't.
- Waiting all week until 30 minutes before class to do the
homework and try to learn what you needed to know for a test
- Don't wait until it's too late. I started out doing pretty
well in algebra. I somehow missed a step one day and that put me
way behind. I really couldn't seem to catch up since then. Don't
let yourself get too far behind so that it is almost impossible
to get caught back up. I will ask for help in the future as soon
as the problem presents itself.
- I learned not to take an 8:15 AM class it's hard to come to
class that early. Nine times out of ten I'd wake up and thinks
about how badly I'd love to stay in bed and sleep.
- I thought I was starting to remember the applications and so
I did not have to show up to class. Thinking this way cased me to
have some problems, like not getting the in-class quizzes, which
cost me ten points each.