What's your routine when studying math

For the discussion of math. Duh.

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gfile-destroyer
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What's your routine when studying math

Postby gfile-destroyer » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:09 am UTC

Back when I was a bit more emotionally stable I would just sit myself down, pull out a timer, and read 1-3 hours a day in my text book depending on how busy I was. That served me well in Calculus A-B. However a lot of problems have hit me over the last year and I've found it tough to focus on the math Im trying to study, I've also found it tough to even get myself to start studying, or get enough sleep. Any advice on how to get a good routine going and to motivate myself to study harder and focus more? Maybe start right after I finish swimming laps in the morning and have my blood pumping?

How do you go about studying math?

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PhillipCup
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby PhillipCup » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:26 pm UTC

French Hip-Hop and/or Disco. I'm not sure if it's about just the background noise or what. I've found MC Solaar, Joe Dassin, Corneille, and Nico Ferrer to be particularly useful. Also, if you're doing Calculus you should check out Hildebrand's Advanced Calculus for application. I like it for examples and conciseness.

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LaserGuy
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:37 pm UTC

My personal experience is that reading math textbooks is mostly wasted time as far as studying is concerned, unless I have absolutely no understanding of the material at all (eg. missed/slept through that class). My routine would normally go something like this:

Do an easy problem related to the section or chapter that I'm working on. Best is something like a worked example or proof--look at the problem, try to do it, then read the full solution, especially if I made a mistake. If I have no clue how to solve the example, I'd probably go back to the most closely related prior chapter/section and try an example there. Work backwards until I can figure out the last relevant problem I can do and start studying from that point. Assuming I can do the example problem, I'd then probably go to the end of chapter/section exercises and try a similar, hopefully easy, problem from that section. If that is fine, I might do 2-3 more problems of increasing difficulty. If I can get everything, then I move on. If I can get everything except for the hardest problem in the section, I might move on anyway if I'm in a bit of a time crunch, but otherwise I'd try to make sure I can solve those. Then move to the next section and repeat. Reading textbooks is too passive for me; I lose focus quickly and end up skimming without really absorbing much. Doing a couple problems, even very easy ones, helps solidify the concepts much better for me.

I like using study groups, but it depends on the structure. What my group often did is that everyone would attempt a problem on their own, and then we'd discuss our solutions and see if we came up with the same answers and steps through it. Group study is only productive if you already have some knowledge of the material, IMHO. If you're really far behind, you probably won't get much benefit. Group study should never substitute individual study; it should supplement it.

Physical exercise apparently does actually help stimulate the brain and may make you more focused or even a better problem-solver. It may also improve your sleeping habits.

I might be reading too much into this, but if you are having problems in your personal life, that can obviously affect your study habits and motivation. You may wish to contact Counseling Services at your campus to discuss it with someone. If the problem is very severe, there are often further options available.

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Yakk
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby Yakk » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:52 pm UTC

What level of math are we talking about?
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

gfile-destroyer
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby gfile-destroyer » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:21 pm UTC

Differential equations/linear algebra and up.

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Cleverbeans
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby Cleverbeans » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:31 pm UTC

My preference is to study after I run in the morning, shower, have some coffee. I like to work in the sunlight so either my kitchen or a window seat at the library.

As for your methods I think reading for two hours would be less effective than working problems for one so spend your time doing less reading and more problem solving. I like to spend about 10% some of my study time reviewing notes, definitions and techniques then divide the other 90% working problems. I also think it's a good idea to pose some problems to yourself as well and try to answer them, so that you can test your confidence in your answers. I also find I am not always interested in the subject for the same reasons as the author or lecturer, so I use this time to supplement my courses as well as what I find fun. This keeps the content more engaging so I can keep focus for longer periods of time.

To deal with "must memorize" content like definitions or key formula I use a sheet of poster board to put up my notes. I lightly sketch it in pencil, ink over in color and use supporting diagrams as I see fit. I then read it out loud one in the morning after I get up and once at night before bed, then just trust it will be there for the exam. Most of the work is in formatting and copying the notes but once that's done it takes nominal effort to keep it fresh for as long as required.

I would also recommend "Becoming a Master Student" by Dave Ellis, which helped me rehabilitate my study skills after high school so I didn't burn out. Definitely worth a read, and very inexpensive second hand.
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." - Abraham Lincoln

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Yakk
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby Yakk » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:47 pm UTC

Engineering/physics/science/mathematics/philosophy/liberal arts type math? High school? University? College? "College-level"?

---

A friend of mine did the "lock himself in a room and read the text repeatedly until he could generate a proof for the first question on an assignment, then try the second question..." It worked for him.

Tutorials help others. Working through problems with others. Having a black/white board to scribble on. Removing a complication of a problem and look at how it would behave in a simpler context.

What is it you are having problems with -- proofs? Solving equations? Understanding concepts?

Do you prefer learn math abstractly? Visually? Verbally? Physically? These are all valid approaches. Have you tried learning via a different approach? It can sometimes crack open something that is hard to pull off.

Why are you short of sleep, is it related to your math problems at all?

Why do you want to study math? If you are having motivation problems, looking at your motivations might help.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

gfile-destroyer
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby gfile-destroyer » Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:42 pm UTC

I cant really afford to do a ton of problems, I have tendonitis in my wrist, which is getting better but I cant afford to waste my wrist while studying. I used to do problems to study and I understand your guys advice I just cant. Unless I did them in my head, that might be fun to practice :) . So Im confined to reading text.

But don't let that stop you from posting your own personal routine.

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LaserGuy
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:57 pm UTC

gfile-destroyer wrote:I cant really afford to do a ton of problems, I have tendonitis in my wrist, which is getting better but I cant afford to waste my wrist while studying. I used to do problems to study and I understand your guys advice I just cant. Unless I did them in my head, that might be fun to practice :) . So Im confined to reading text.

But don't let that stop you from posting your own personal routine.


Can you use a mouse? You can just scribble out solutions in Paint or something.

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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby math-helper » Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:43 pm UTC

To study math, I secure at least 2 hours as once I into it stay there practicing as many problems as can do; three days a week.
Math is practice practice and practice.

gfile-destroyer
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby gfile-destroyer » Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:26 am UTC

Spent the last hour cleaning my room. Hopefully in a few days it will be set up to the point where I have a clutter free study environment.

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Cornish
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby Cornish » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:10 pm UTC

I start by clearing out any possible distractions, so I switch of my telephone, shut down my computer and put them away. After that I place my sitting pillow on the ground and gather the essentials. Paper, pencil and so forth. Then I get the books needed from my book chest and any references I may need and place them with the pillow and start after retrieving a cup of tea and a couple of cookies. I generally take herbal tea to calm my mind (I've got ADD). I only really study during the day... since I don't have any light (Besides the sun) in the room in which I study.

I spend the first hour reading up on what I want to work on, mostly refreshing the knowledge I have, then I do a hour of exercises or exploring a concept that's new to me. Followed by either more exercises (generally simpler exercises then the first) or more reading up or in to what-ever I'm exploring at that moment.

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jawdisorder
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby jawdisorder » Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:02 pm UTC

I'm definitely not a model example as I tend to absorb math very quickly. What works for me is starting right off with practice problems. I will probably have to look at my notes/book for one or two problems until I know what I'm doing. After I am able to get two or three of one type of problem correct without my notes I move on to a new type of problems.

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raike
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby raike » Sat Jul 30, 2011 4:07 am UTC

I read pretty fast, so I start by just sitting down with some really happy music in the background and reading. I then do problems - relevant examples in the notes or book, old homework problems, and any others that look relevant in the book.
"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." - H.J. Kaiser
رات دن گردش میں ہیں سات آسماں
ہو رہیگا کچھ نہ کچھ گھبرائیں کیا
(غالب)

adanedhel728
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby adanedhel728 » Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:00 am UTC

I personally disagree with the posters that say that just sitting and reading the material is a waste of time, but that's a very personal thing. Some people like to read it, some people hate that. In my case, I read everything that I possibly can that's assigned to me. I have to, because I won't understand it otherwise.

But it also depends on the book, and in my experience, math books don't become readable until the slightly higher classes. Like my college geometry and abstract algebra books were very readable. But I tried brushing up on my multivariable calculus by reading my old textbook, and I thought it was completely incomprehensible. Maybe that's because I'm more pure math instead of applied. I like something I can just sit down and read like a novel. Of course, that's not always available.

But my personal experience is that I'll listen to soft-ish music. Sometimes New Age like Enya, but, and I know this sounds kind of pretentious, I find that a Chopin Pandora station is great study music. Mostly classical piano.

And if I'm feeling the least bit tired, I might get up and walk around while I'm reading to get my blood moving so it's not torturous to study.

But, mostly, the three most important things in learning math are patience, naps, and caffeine. In that order.

Oh, and I almost forgot, this might help if you don't know about it already, but some people here might think it's stupid: khanacademy.org is a website that has a lot of math lectures hosted on YouTube. Or if you prefer reading you can try Paul's Online Math Notes. Neither of those will replace practicing the work, but they can help.

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Dopefish
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Re: What's your routine when studying math

Postby Dopefish » Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:22 am UTC

My approach has generally been to dive straight into the first assignment problem (/a random easy 'easy' question from the section) and see if I can do that simply from mathematical intuition or just from what I've gleaned from the lectures directly. If that goes well, then I'll skip to the last problems of the section that tend to be the more challenging (interesting) ones. If I can do that, it probably means I've covered the material elsewhere and don't need to spend any particular time studying, and do the remainder of the assignment at my leisure.

More often when learning new stuff though, I can't do things right off, in which case I'll read through the (whole) section, but with the problem in the back of my mind so I know what sort of thing the material should allow me to do. I find this is useful since sometimes textbooks have a mixture of additional rigour in going about a proof on top of the actual thing they're trying to show that isn't actually useful, so it can be hard to discern how much is additional proofy stuff, and how much is actual technique that one would be expected to know how to do and apply.

I don't listen to music or anything like that at the same time, I generaly just lay out with the textbook and have at it. I'll generally have a drink of some sort on hand (typically pop), but it usually doesn't get much attention as I'm to busy trying to figure out the material.


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