failing like never before


How Not To Study For A Test

I've realized that I learn best by doing, especially with math. Some people can understand a mathematical theorem completely after having heard the professor explain it in rather terse math lingo, but I can't understand a theorem until I've taken a good look at it and gone through how and why it works.

My math professor told the class that the best way to learn math, is to practice, he then preceded to say, "when I was in college taking calculus, I did all the problems in the book, and I got really good at doing integrals." At this point, everyone looked at him funny. After all, what kind of a deranged man would solve every single question in a math book on a whim?

I had my math midterm today (Wednesday) and two days ago, I thought about what my professor had said, that the best way to learn math is to practice. So I woke up bright and early Tuesday morning (yesterday, the day before my midterm) and preceded to do all the odd numbered problems in the book. Of the 9 or so sections we had covered so far in class, I managed to complete only 6 due to time constraints. On the last 3 sections, I did a few problems and read through my notes.

I went through a lot of paper in the process.

On the plus side, I ended the day being amazingly proficient at integrating and differentiating logarithmic and exponential functions, at finding inverse functions and their derivatives, and at L'Hopital's Rule and its applications. On the down side, I hardly left my room the whole day (mostly, for food, class, and the restroom) and I didn't go to sleep till 2AM Wednesday morning.

I went into the midterm feeling a bit apprehensive, despite my exhaustive studying. I came out feeling strangely exuberant. It would be presumptuous of me to declare that I got an 'A' on the midterm, though I felt I did quite well, so I'll say that I should get at least a 'B.'

Theres a point to this story, and it is: Do not attempt to study for a math test by doing every problem in the book the day before.

Sage advice if I ever heard any.


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