Proverb: Education is like water falling on stone. Drop by drop the water will wear away the
stone, but a year's supply poured on at once will have no effect.
An important bit of information to know is that algebra is a massive and boundless topic, of which
you are only expected to learn a small portion this semester. Do not let algebra overwhelm you.
Take it one topic, one day, one concept at a time. As you continue, the pieces will come
together like a giant puzzle. Study a small section at a time and work on algebra every day.
Several sections per day can become overwhelming and too much to handle. Pace yourself for
Day 1: When you begin any course at any school, there are a few things that you must do. First,
read your syllabus. The syllabus is the contract between you and the instructor. This document
spells out the expectations of the course, the amount of work involved, and other valuable
information. For instance, the grading policy, attendance policy, and the test schedule will be vital
information for success in the class. Secondly, you should know the instructor's name, office
location, and office hours. You will need to know your instructor's name in order to take tests.
Lastly, set goals for yourself. These goals deal with a course, a semester, your college education,
or life ambitions. Some goals may remain unchanged for long periods of time, while others will
change daily. Goals could be short term, like "study math tonight." Goals could be long term, like
"graduate in three semesters." Setting goals is the first step towards higher levels of achievement.
Without a plan you will not know where you are going or how to get there.
Sleep: Sleep is critical in getting the most out of your education. Make sure that you get a good
night's sleep before taking tests. Get at least six to eight hours of sleep each night before school. If
you stay up late trying to learn three week's worth of material in eight hours, you are guaranteed
to be confused and do poorly. Spread out your studying so that you only have to briefly review
key concepts and problems the night before exams.
Notes and Book:
The notes that you take in class are your primary resource for information between class
meetings. Do not make the mistake of not reading your notes until the night before an exam. It is
difficult to try to decipher what happened weeks earlier. Instead, review your notes before the
next class, filling in any missing information and explaining any abbreviations that you might have
created. Another available resource, outside of the instructor, is the textbook. Try to read the
book nightly. Read about the topics that were covered in class and the topics that will be covered
in class. Coming to class with a sense of where you are going and where you have been is very
important. Sometimes, reading and understanding the book many seem difficult. This is natural,
but keep on truckin'. Do not let the book beat you. If there is anything that you do not
understand, ask your instructor. Something that can be used for any course is a summary
sheet.A summary sheet refers to a collection of key terms, concepts, problems, and examples that
you encountered in a section, chapter, or class meeting. This should be in your own words, for
maximum results. These sheets should be saved and used to study for tests and the Final Exam.
It's always a good idea to study a few sheets of paper, rather than a book or fifty pages of notes
before a test.
Homework: Before you begin your homework, review examples from your notes and textbook.
These examples should guide you through the homework problems. Doing all the assigned
homework problems is a good way to insure that you know the material. Always write down
each problem and anything that might help with finding a solution. Don't get discouraged if you
have difficulty doing some of the problems. If you can not finish a problem,leave enough space to
fill in the work at a later time. It is crucial that you continue on with the assignment. So, don't
give up. The answers to the odd problems are in the back of the book. You should always check
Study groups: One of the best ways to learn is to study with someone else. Get to know one or
more students in the class or course, and try to form a study group or study team. Review
concepts discussed in class, in the book, and in the homework assignments. Test each other on
specific knowledge and vocabulary. Go over sample tests (if available) and chapter review tests.
Sharing ideas and methods will help reinforce your understanding of the material.
Where to study: Once you know how and when to study, you must know where to study. Your environment of study can have as much to do with you understanding the material as the material itself. Choose a location free of distractions, visual and auditory. The cafeteria, major walkways on campus, in front of the TV, or in bed are not ideal environments for studying. There is too much going on in the cafeteria, outside, and on TV to stay completely focused on what you are doing. The bedroom may look like a great place to study, but it is really easy to fall asleep and wake up at four in the morning, with nothing accomplished.
Tutoring: One common misconception about tutoring is that only "dummies" get tutors. On the
contrary, students concerned about their success get tutors. If you want to succeed and you are
unfamiliar with some aspects of the course, get a tutor. The tutoring center in Building 1 room
254 has tutors available to Valencia students free of charge. The center will match YOUR
schedule with a tutor for your convenience. If you wish to hire a private tutor, by all means.
Private tutors range from $10-$20 per hour. Also, math professors are available for free walk-in
tutoring in building 4 on the first floor in the IMC. Also, remember your classroom and lab
instructors. They have office hours available to answer any of your questions. You should have
specific questions and problems prepared. Saying that you "don't understand anything" means that
you need to be taught everything starting before Kindergarten. If you know where you are having
difficulty, then you will receive the best possible help.
Note Taking: Taking USEFUL NOTES is an important study skill. Useful notes are correct,
accurate, and meaningful. They will help you study for the course. The use of highlighters and
underlining can help you focus on key ideas. Be selective and mark only small, significant
segments. Remember, these are your notes and you will have to study from them. Try to leave
space in the margins for a quick summary of what is on the particular page of notes. The act of
writing helps you remember and process the information better. Instead of writing your notes in
paragraph form, you might try other forms like outline form. If your notes do not make sense or
are incomplete, try using a tape recorder. Tape the class, with the teacher's approval, and replay it
later to fill in the gaps. Also, use flash cards to keep track of key concepts, definitions, theorems,
and formulas. Flash cards worked in elementary school, they can work here. Remember to make a
Class Time: When you come to class, be prepared. Be ready to take notes, answer questions, ask
questions, take a quiz, or a test. Always bring a pencil (NOT PEN), paper, your notes, book, and
your calculator to class each and every day. Have these items out on top of your desk so that you
can get to them when needed. Most instructors have a routine that is followed like clockwork.
Learn the routine.
Procrastination: Procrastination is one of the greatest illnesses that can inflict a student. It is very important that you plan a schedule of your life for the whole semester. Your daily planner or appointment book will be used mainly to keep track of tests, assignments, classes, work, and other activities. These items when matched with family and friends, eating, driving, and studying can leave very little time for sleep, if not planned wisely. The plan can be done weekly or even daily. Make sure that you reserve at least two hours per day to study each course that you are taking. Some days you will need more, some less, but never cut yourself short. It is important to be constantly aware of upcoming events. Surprises are fun only if cake is involved. Proper time management will make better use of your valuable time and save your academic life. Do not put off anything until tomorrow that could be done today. Every semester, something unexpected happens that throws off your plans like: car trouble, the flu, accidents, or oversleeping. Of course, some of us get lucky.