How to ace your science classes.
I’ve been through many years of schooling; 4 years of high school, 4 years of undergrad, and now I’m at my second year at the Philadelphia College of Medicine. I’ve gotten every grade imaginable on a test from failing to 100%. Science classes are a bit different than other subjects. The material is a mixture of new language, to fact memorization, to diagram dissection and most importantly, application. One of my most frequently asked questions is how to do well in science classes. Below I’ve outlined some helpful tips that should help!
Pre-read minimally. What I mean by that is don’t focus the majority of your time on pre-reading before class. If you are totally unfamiliar with the subject matter it’s important to have a general idea of what topics you’ll be covering. But do not try and teach yourself, especially not out of a text book. I always do well skimming the professors notes an hour or so before class and then making sure everything is understood that very same day. Don’t worry about memorizing everything that day, but make sure you go over the notes after class and write down any questions you have and shoot the professor an email so it’s fresh on both of your minds.
Don’t slack and don’t cram. What I mean by this is to make sure you are keeping up with the material so it’s never a huge pile up. This is the hardest thing for most people since cramming and procrastination seem to be common habits, but if you actually want to retain something you need to learn in ‘small chunks’. It’s easier on your brain to learn 1 chapter/unit/subject a day then 5. Also when you relax for a week or so then expect your mind to function and memorize a whole midterm’s worth of information, it never ends well… I’ve learned this the hard way too many times.
Know the language. Make sure that you know what all the words you’re reading mean. If you’re studying anatomy and you don’t know what origin and insertion means, look it up! I was shocked at how people just passively study. Staying for 10 hours in the library has never been my game plan, but it’s ok because I make sure that I’m being effective when i do give up time to study. Knowing what I’m reading and making sure I simplify the words so my brain can understand is a huge time saver. Btw, google knows it all. Most likely you’ll be able to google the words you don’t know and then you can move on with your studying.
And now for some general stuff…
Sleep. This is a touchy subject for me since I’ve never been a good sleeper. I tend to sleep less than 6 hours a night almost every day. But experts far and wide agree that all-nighters are not worth it and sleep is vital. We all need different amounts, but aim for 6-8 hours every night.
Organize everything. This is probably the skill that helped me the most. I love to have everything organized. And when I say everything, I mean from my app’s folders on my phone to my sock drawer to my backpack. Make sure that at any given time you know where all of your notes are. Use your computer or notebooks or folders, whatever you feel comfortable with. But keep it organized, don’t do a major overhaul every week, you won’t have to if you keep it clean.
Move. More than likely you’re more sedentary than before and it’s important to get an hour or two of exercise in. I know that I feel gross if all I do is sit around all day. I feel so much more productive and on top of life when I work out in the early morning then start my day.