Archive for May, 2010

Note taking… Perfect for Finals or Fall Semester 2010!

May 11, 2010

Hello fellow Spartans!

This post is going to focus on note taking.  For me, note taking has been either very difficult or very easy. However, thanks to Cal’s tips, I learned some new ways of thinking about notes and classes.

Cal separates classes into three different types. These types are non-technical,technical with math, and technical without math.

First off, before I read his site and started this experiment, I had never considered to group different classes into different note types. Genius! Now, how did I go about using these different groups and applying them to my classes? Overall, it was pretty simple. I just reviewed my schedule and found out  which type each class fit  for note taking.

Russian 102: non-technical

Wra 202: non-technical

Iah 202: non-technical

Iss 315: non-technical

As a professional writing major, all of my classes fell into one category. Thus, when carrying out Cal’s strategies, I relied on focusing on one type of note taking.

For this note type, he advised  to not write everything down. This has to be my biggest problem in my history and english classes. I tend to go overboard and write everything down.

This strategy helped with  my history class notes,  but not truly in the English or Russian course. I feel that the English class did not always rely on ideas or note taking, while the Russian course was too new for me to do the recommended format explained in Cal’s blog.

So, I switched things up a bit. The Russian professor always gave us strict notes, and what I did was try and relate the ideas in her way on the first note day, but then try to recreate using Cal’s strategy of question and conclusion the next day. So I combined old with this new strategy.

It worked okay, but I feel that language courses are a bit harder to stereotype into a note taking group. Thus, I learned from this week that note taking requires serious thought on what TYPE of class you are taking. If I had done this experiment in the fall with my math class, I would not have written eveything down like I did for previous  classes.

Overall, this strategy taught me to think different about future note taking. Most especially, writing everything down for sure is a  bad strategy. It is also a bad habit that is hard to break.

Till next time,

Natasha 🙂

Retreating Deadline and Test Preparation..Hard but Necessary

May 11, 2010

Hello Spartans!

Now, we’re going to discuss two topics that are more geared toward exams and papers rather than general studying. However, these are pretty essential.

Cal’s  Retreating Deadline  Method is basically “forgetting” the real due date and making one that works with your schedule.

For example, I had a paper to write for one of my required courses. It was a simple assignment, so I wrote it the weekend before it was due. Then, the day before the real due date, I looked it over and scanned it for anything that was missing. This took a total of perhaps a half hour. Then, the next day I just turned it in. Sound heavenly to you? Well, it is!

The best part of this strategy is that you never feel rushed. No more coffee runs or all nighters with this tip! I certainly also felt so much relief when I could concentrate more on my exam than on the paper due the same day.

Test Preparation

Now, test preparation has been covered a lot. I have seen this strategy of studying a little bit in lots of different places. However, Cal’s take on it is a little different. I found some general test truths that I had done beforehand which accrued more stress than necessary. He breaks down these truths in the article on the site.

Most importantly, he mentions the limit  of preparing to be at MOST 3 hours per day before the exam. I would say that it depends on the exam. For a really easy  class, I made it  one to two. But if it is a pretty heinous  or moderate exam, then 3 hours might be preferable.

Here is how his strategy  played out in my exam preparation:

Like he said, do something conducive to studying, but do not study on the first day. I made Russian vocabulary cards. Then, again like the strategy details, study the hardest first.  From past experience, I know that studying the easiest first is not as effective. You are already good at it, so why study it first? This worked well since I knew ahead what was hardest for me to remember on the exam.

The further along I got in the days, however, the harder it was to keep on track.  This strategy needs repeated successful atttempts to become normal and routine. However, even if I didn’t always follow through, it helped a lot to be more ahead than the night before. This strategy needs definite persistence to be successful, so I recommend testing it out with an easy exam and then with a hard exam to see how it works. 

But, the information did stick in my brain for the exams that I did this. I also found myself exploring new areas of the material as well. I think this strategy allows connections to be easier to make between different concepts, which is a major benefit. Overall, a good but tough strategy that I think will become easier over time.

Basically, these test strategies are gold, but they need strict dilligence to become second nature. Hopefully, next year I will have these down better than this past semester.

Good luck on exams,

Natasha 🙂

Hard vs. Hard to Do, Pseudo Work, and Hard Days

May 10, 2010

Hello Spartans!

I know it’s been a long time since the last posting, but for the experiment’s sake, I have decided to comment on the remaining strategies. I have used them directly or indirectly this last semester, and I will share with you how Cal’s tips worked in my own academic life.

The following tips will be analyzed through my Russian 101 and 102 courses.

In his blog, Cal talks about hard vs. hard to do work. Basically, if you think it is hard, then you will work for LONG hours on a particular class. I did this with Russian 101 in the fall, and it was hard to do simply because I waited until the night beforehand. I remember doing a whole week’s worth of homework in one night, which was problematic for learning the material.

Instead, he says to use “hard focus” or do the assignments WITHOUT distractions. For example, for my Russian 102 I do the homework assignment the night it is assigned, and then I go over it again the next day before class. Alone, whenever possible.

This way, I do not  overexert my time and am therefore refreshed. It works :).  Plus, here’s the kicker: the language became EASIER since I wasn’t rushed and could exert less  effort to learn a great deal of material.

This also relates to a topic that I did in Russian 101:pseudo work.

Cal describes this as work that isn’t really work.  For me, I think of it as doing the work just to turn it in. I would do Russian 101 worksheets and just fill it in, but I never learned and paid for it with the test..and the many red marks. So, unplugging   the internet and doing it then(in two different time blocks, like I do now) really prevents this problem. This concept also stresses breaks and not focusing for a long period of time, the opposite of  the “hard to do” mentality. Cal also states how you acccomplish more by doing it on different days, just like how Russian 102 assignments worked better with two days 🙂 Overall, this is one of my favorite tips because it can be applied to any subject you need to work on more dilligently.

Russian 102 was also enjoyable due to this tip :).

Hard Days. We all get them from time to time. But, if you plan, you will know what they are beforehand. This past semester, my hard days were specifically Tuesday and Thursday. I worked in the evenings, but made an effort to make sure homework was done beforehand. This saved a lot of stress for the little assignments. Or, if something comes up, plan a specific day to work the stress out. My awareness of Cal’s strategy really helped the days that I had two exams planned.  Basic summary of Cal’s tip here: Devise a plan of action and carry it out if things fall on the same day.

These strategies are important, especially as the semester becames harder. It is so easy to throw in the towel and just complete assignments, but then the test comes :(. Remember that!

Good luck,

Natasha 🙂