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STEM Study Tips You’ve Never Heard Of

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

If you’ve been studying long and hard for a STEM class and your grades are still mediocre, you’ve come to the right place. Chances are that you’re rereading the textbook, watching videos, and doing tons of practice problems, but you’re not improving. It’s not because STEM is not your thing, but because you don’t know how to study effectively for something that seems so hard. So start your next study session right by using these uncommon study tips! They are not discussed often, and yet they are crucial to succeeding in STEM courses. 

The first tip may be the best one– proving or deriving theorems or laws by yourself. This is most applicable to math, chemistry, and physics. If you are not used to doing this, it may feel daunting or even futile. But it truly makes a huge difference and will benefit you in more ways than one. By knowing how an equation was derived, you have a greater understanding of the concept behind it. In addition, remembering the equation becomes easier, and you no longer need to do rote memorization. Rote memorization involves repeating information to yourself until you remember it.

To implement this tip, try doing it every time you have a new formula to memorize. Without looking at your notes, figure out how the great scientists before you came up with this formula. After all, formulas don’t appear out of thin air! If you’ve spent five to ten minutes and you still can’t figure it out, it’s time to look back at your notes and see how your teacher explains it. Make sure you understand each step of the proof. Then, put your notes away and try to prove it on your own again. Over time, you’ll get faster at proving these and understanding new concepts. Learning becomes faster and easier.

My next tip is to avoid writing, and draw instead. This is great for subjects like biology and chemistry. Do your best to shorten words, strip sentences, and use symbols. You may want to do this with your lecture notes. Instead of just reading them, try to translate them into diagrams, flowcharts, and concept maps. This takes more thought, since you are making deliberate decisions about how to depict the concepts you’ve just learned and their relationships to each other. While doing this, you may discover areas you’re not certain about, and that’s when you consult Google. Or, you may have a realization, and suddenly everything makes sense (which is the best feeling ever!).These tips have one thing in common– use your brainpower intentionally. When you engage with your course content on a deeper level, you will perform better on questions that can’t be solved with plug-and-chug or plain memorization. So I’ll end this with one last tip: take care of your brain. This means getting enough quality sleep and exercising regularly. It’s harder to study when you’re tired, and research has shown that sleep deprivation interferes with cognitive function. Studies have also shown that exercise improves cognitive function, so make sure to incorporate enough movement into your schedule, whether that’s playing sports with your friends or getting a good workout at the gym.

Yesha is a biological sciences major at UC Davis. She loves learning about pretty much anything, and she used to have a studygram. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going to the gym, and arts and crafts.