Chapter 2.13: Approaches to Different Types of Classes
by Shubham Chattopadhyay, last updated 08/29/16 by Sarah Tian
Different classes certainly merit different study approaches. Certain classes will play to your strengths; others, less so. A strategic way to figure out the nature of the class if to find out more about the professor’s style from class reviews and from other students who have taken the class from that professor. Is the professor organized? Is grading sometimes arbitrary? Are precepts a priority? How much weight is on the midterm compared to the final? The answers to these questions will determine how much of a priority the class becomes (and remember these answers are entirely personal). Certain classes, especially STEM classes, will require a lot of team effort with classmates (through problem set sessions, office hours, etc.). Others are more of a solo endeavor, like writing papers. It’s tough to generalize, but here are some common tips for class types:
- Engineering classes (especially classes like MAT201 or PHY103): use office hours early in the week to get ahead on the week’s problem set.
- Classes with weekly written postings: try to calibrate the level of effort with how much the preceptor is invested in the postings. Some simply check for completion past a word limit, and others will treat each posting like an essay. Try to identify which early on.
- Classes with a lot of reading: do NOT expect to complete in one or two sittings. Break up the reading into several chunks and attack each piece day by day. Setting aside a number of hours on a Saturday to complete hundreds of pages rarely, if ever, works. Take notes as you read to help you remember all of the material.
- Classes with very few assignments, but each is critical for a grade (e.g. a paper worth 40% of your grade): try to begin these ~2-2.5 weeks in advance. Start thinking about the topic, drafting a thesis, and completing multiple drafts. And use the Writing Center!