Math students frequently make the mistake of not keeping notes when they study. They expect to simply read through their textbook and instantly have all of the material committed to memory. This may pass in English classes, where your familiarity with the language allows you to absorb information quickly. However in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes, there is simply no way you can hold all of the information in your head. The material is far too complex. These subjects require you to first capture the information, and then periodically review what you have learned.
Normally, you may try to read through your textbook, only to have your thoughts drift away after a few sentences. Students often find it difficult to take an active interest in these dry (at best), and boring (at worst) subjects. But in order to do well academically, there is no better method than to actually master the material. If only there were some tool that could help students read through their textbook and actually understand and remember the material. Enter: The Study Guide.
Study guides are perfect tools for capturing the information you need to study for tests and providing convenient reference for later study sessions. Here are some of the benefits of using study guides for math, engineering, or any technical course.
1. Forces You to Reflect On and Comprehend Concepts
If you read your math textbook straight through, like you would a novel, you are not reading in a method conducive to information absorption. In order to be successful studying STEM subjects, you need to play with every concept in your mind until you understand it fully. Usually you have fully comprehended a topic when you can teach it to someone else fully. As you read, take time to reflect on what you learn, then put it in your own words in your study guide. Draw plenty of pictures and work lots of example problems so you can refer to the procedures easily later on. Use your study guide to ‘teach’ your future self.
2. Takes the Focus Off Your Ego
Do you ever get frustrated while reading your textbook? Does the whole thing just seem really overwhelming and impossible? If you expect to remember all of the concepts you are expected to learn simply by reading your textbook, you are placing an awful lot of pressure on yourself to memorize the material. According to renowned psychologist William Glasser, humans only remember 10% of what they read. If your current strategy is to simply read your textbook, you would have to read it ten times! On the other hand, we remember 95% of what we teach to someone else. Document what you learn in a study guide that you can refer to again and again.
3. Creates a Permanent Reference
Since you will have already forced yourself to reflect on and absorb the material, your study guide can help reinforce what you have learned in your subconscious through brief periodic review sessions. The study guide you have created can serve as a tremendous reference for problem solving and reinforcing concepts that you can use beyond your academic career.