Subject preferences usually fall into two categories; the literature-based category and the science-based one. People who enjoy English, history
, and literature-rich subjects are usually on one end of the course spectrum and those that enjoy, mathematics, technology and science-rich subjects are on the other end. And even though the two worlds collide quite often, many people that spend most of their time in the literature-based world are almost terrified of an Intro Biology class or other college-level science course
. And the same goes for science-buffs; their anxiety lies on the other end; with English Comp courses and psychology!
So if you know that science does not come naturally to you, or even if it does and you just what to make sure you put your best foot forward, you should definitely benefit from some common and not-so-common strategies for success.
3 Ways to ace a college-level science course
Tip #1 Push yourself to be actively engaged in the class, ask questions, make comments, show that you are involved in the lesson
Since most introductory science courses tend to be pretty large (by being a basic prerequisite for most people) the sentiment can sometimes be a bit impersonal and distant; and therefore hard to actively participate in. And even for smaller classes, if you have little interest in the topic you may be shy or reluctant to get involved.
Despite these obstacles, it's important for you to get 'in the mix'. Being an active learner, rather than a passive one, can improve your comprehension of the lecture or lesson being presented. Likewise being involved can also help to foster better communication between you and your professor as well as keep you alert and in-tune to the issues being addressed.
Some basic advice on staying involved...
- If you're in a big class, sit in the front row (pretend that its just you and the two rows behind you!)
- If you're in a small class, still avoid the back rows (those are good for falling asleep and eating)
- Ask questions even when you understand what was said (this is part of keeping yourself awake and in-tune)
- Make it easy for the professor to call on you by showing that you were listening and really want to answer the question
Tip #2 Do your homework each and every time-practice is essential
One bit of advice that you may hear over and over again for any science or mathematics course
is that you must practice consistently if you want to do well. There is really no way of getting around it. But the problem is, is that many people simply don't want to practice. And that's what homework is for. So even if you can't see yourself spending time on extra problems over the weekend, the least you can do
is be diligent about completing your homework assignments
Some pointers on science homework...
- Attempt to answer every question; even if you think you will fail miserably
- Write everything out; don't go for any shortcuts
- Utilize available tutors and professor office hours if you need extra help
- Don't settle for a lousy homework grade; make it your objective to complete all assignments on time
- No one wants to study ugly notes; take your time to make sure each problem is legible and will make a good study guide in the future
Tip #3 Be ahead of the game; prep yourself for each lesson
You know the feeling of a well-planned day. When you get up early, plan everything out and complete all your task on time. Well this is similar to the feeling that you may get when you prepare for your class ahead of time. A quick scan or review of the materials to be covered can do wonders for your understanding of the material once the class is in session.
Suggestions for planning ahead...
- Look up any new vocabulary words for the lesson (or just terms that are unfamiliar to you)
- Skim the lesson; review any headings, subtopics, diagrams, or charts
- Write down any questions you may have based on your skimming
- If you have time to read the whole chapter and take notes then do so; its actually much better than skimming
- If you feel like you want more, do a quick google search on the topic to see if you can find better explanations or any relevant examples and illustrations.
In some cases professors will assign a chapter to be read beforehand to prepare you for the lecture as well (but not always). Also since science is similar to math
, in that you build on what you already know, reviewing past lessons that you may have not fully grasped may also be helpful as well.
Find out what type of learner you are and use it to your advantage
Usually the problem that many people face when learning, whether in science or anything else, is simply that they are not being taught the material in the manner in which they learn best. This is often an issue of debate amongst many K-12 educators and administrators; how best to teach each student.
But for college there isn't too much discussion on this. Since its an optional and very independent endeavor, the attitude is basically, if you can't take the heat then get out of the kitchen. And with that said, you may not want to rely on your professor to alter his teaching style to cater to your own learning needs! Instead you need to jump in and do what you can to ensure that your learning experience is a good one; and that you can properly process the information that is given to you.
The four basic types of learners (as described by the author of How to Teach Effectively; published by Lyceum Books)
- visual learners - learn by seeing things; tend to speak fast
- auditory learners - rather be read to than to read; tend to speak slowly
- read-write learners - prefer written information; enjoy reading and writing all around
- kinesthetic learners - learn through solving real-life problems; enjoy hands-on activities
So once you've figured out what type of learner you are (there are also some short evaluations you can take online if you're not sure) then you can start implementing tactics to improve your learning experience. For instance, if your are an auditory learner you may consider playing a tutorial in the background while you clean your room or record notes for yourself and play them back later. The options are all there, its up to you how you want to learn.
The most important thing is that you find and stick to a method that will enhance your understanding of the subject and help you to perform better in your course overall.