Study Tips

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 repetition).

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 text.
  • 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 the test.
  • 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 test.
  • Looking at the examples in the book really seems to help.
  • 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 answers.
  • 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 another student.
  •  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 recalled better.
  • 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 memorizing steps.
  • 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 became.
  • 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 do.
  • "Practice makes perfect" isn't just words, it's the truth.
  • 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 lost.
  • 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 than before.
  • 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 didn't work.
  • 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.