Optimizing How You Study Calculus

Studying for a calculus course requires focus, patience, and time to understand and practice concepts. There are multiple methods that can be used to study more efficiently. The following includes some of the techniques that you can employ to be well-prepared for your classes and tests.

  1. Consistency Over Cramming 

It is a common habit for many students to study and cram the night before a calculus test. However, this is not a good idea for many reasons. In general, mathematics requires not only a good memory of theorems, formulas, and concepts but also a solid intuition that can only develop over time. Additionally, studying the night before a test can often lead to increased stress levels and reduced sleep, leading to an overall poorer comprehension of the material. 

On the other hand, studies show that distributing your learning over a longer period of time can avoid the negative effects associated with cramming. This method also improves memory consolidation and recall, allowing you to complete problems faster and more accurately. Thus, for instance, rather than studying for 3 hours before a test, it is a better alternative to study for 30 minutes every day for the previous week. You may find it useful to utilize the following techniques to help you study consistently:

  • Reviewing After Each Class

Reviewing after each math class can be very beneficial to improve memory of the material. This also helps to ensure a more complete understanding of the concepts, as you can easily check if there is something you do not completely understand. This is an extremely time-efficient method as it should only take 5-15 minutes, depending on the quantity and difficulty of the material learned during the class. This is also highly adjustable; if one day you do not have the time to review the material, you can simply review it the next day.

  • Studying The Right Amount

A consistent approach to studying mathematics implies that there should be shorter yet more frequent studying periods. Studying for too short can lead to too little material being studied, while on the other hand, studying for too long can make it difficult to remember the material and could lead to burnout. Thus, you should organize and plan ahead to understand how much material you should tackle each session. This could be twenty minutes, or it could be an hour, depending on how difficult the material is. 

  • Setting Goals

It often takes a lot of mental discipline to study the same subject frequently, especially if it is difficult. Therefore, it is useful to set weekly goals as a means to motivate yourself and to make learning math a more enjoyable experience. Shoot for realistic goals, like small daily milestones that you can celebrate and be proud of. Consistent study will always pay off in better understanding and better test scores.

  1. Optimize your Studying

Even if you try to study consistently, there will always be times when you procrastinate too much or you lack the time. Therefore, some days you might be required to study for longer than usual. Thus, it should always be kept in mind to prioritize quality over the quantity of time you spend. The following include different ways you can optimize your studying.

  • Staying Organized

Being unorganized while you study can greatly decrease the amount of work you complete in a given amount of time. It will be useful to take notes in an organized manner, as well as designate specific notebooks and folders to store what you learned from class. Additionally, taking good handwritten notes has been shown to increase memory retention of concepts, making it even more crucial to stay organized.

  • Taking Regular Breaks

Studying for a long amount of time without frequent breaks can decrease your concentration over time, making it hard to solve problems and memorize concepts. This can ultimately increase stress and frustration, decreasing the quality of your study sessions. Many people prefer to work for twenty-five minutes, and then to take a five-minute break. However, you should always find what intervals of studying work best for you.

  • Understanding Your Study Habits

Similar to what was mentioned previously, studying is largely personalized, and everyone has different habits. Thus, it is important to understand your own studying habits in order to increase the quality of the time you spend. However, if you believe that the studying habits that best suit you are inefficient, it will benefit you to try and slowly improve them. For instance, studying at night rather than earlier could be a bad decision, as it typically leads to impaired concentration and reduced sleep.

  1. Utilize Different Resources

Using the same studying methods for a long period of time can be effective, but frequently get boring and repetitive. The following includes several different ways that can increase your motivation to study through more interactive and interesting ways to learn or review:

  • Using The “I Aced Calculus” App

Using apps to study can be beneficial as they can be used anywhere at any time (provided that you carry your phone) and provide an interactive experience that helps you to review for your next test. The IAC app provides an organized way to work through flashcards and practice quizzes in order to see what areas you understand well and what areas require improvement.

  • Practice Tests

Practice tests are great for creating a similar experience to real tests. They require you to put the material that you have learned to the test (no pun intended), cultivating your problem-solving skills as well as understanding what types of problems pose the greatest difficulty. The practice tests can also show the full scope of the course and what topics you need to work on.

  • Studying With Friends

Studying with friends can be useful for a variety of reasons. Not only does it make studying sessions more enjoyable, but it allows you to share resources and build off of each other’s knowledge. It has also been shown explaining concepts to others is an effective strategy for testing yourself, as it requires you to fully understand the material at a deeper level. 

  • Use Other Personalized Methods

As studying is very personalized, different methods work for different people. For instance, some people prefer to listen to music as they study, to create a more enjoyable environment and maintain their focus. Therefore, finding what works best for you will ultimately optimize the speed at which you prepare for your next test.