Posts Tagged ‘notes’

Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge in the summer fog.

Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge in the summer fog.

I had a graduation party last Saturday with my family and family friends. I was just happy to have everyone there but it appears that many brought congratulatory cards and even gifts. I was completely blown away by the unexpected generosity. They ranged from cash to gift cards to local restaurants. The idea being that I could use these to help start myself up in Seattle for graduate school, sort of like wedding gifts for a college graduate.

One thing I have had ingrained in me since a young age is the importance of thank you cards.

While in recent years it would be easier to send out e-mails thanking for gifts, as all of my communication is by email, I find it more important to send out handwritten thank you notes.

Those who I have received gifts from have told me how they appreciated the thank you cards, often in light of them not receiving any from someone else.

Of course someone is more likely to get gifts in the future, or at least appropriate gifts (I have yet to receive a hand knit hat with ear flaps) when the person giving the gift is thoughtfully thanked.


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Must concentrate, must study.

Must concentrate, must study.

Okay, here’s the plan:

Read through the class notes (own and provided) and jot down any important looking equation.

Go through book chapters looking at pictures, diagrams and equations. Write down any that might be on the final.

Compile a notesheet to use on the file from these notes.

Look over old homeworks for what was done incorrectly and equations used. If there is something that was used on the homework not on the notesheet, put it there.

Do the same with the midterm(s).

Re-write the notesheet clearly in an organized fashion to be used on the final.

Make a second notesheet of material that is not allowed on the first one (if applicable). Read this over before going to sleep the night before the final.

Ensure a solid nights sleep.

And that is how I have dealt with every physics final that has allowed notesheets (all of them).

The finals I dread are those that allow calculators and open-note open-book exams. Those scare me to no end. That and take home finals.

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Lost shoes in Isla Vista.

Lost shoes in Isla Vista.

At first I was going to write about how I thought that putting textbooks on the Kindle was a bad idea, then while writing I realized that I was wrong.

Wrong in the sense that from my point of view (a physics student) I need physical textbooks so the Kindle did not work for me, however by the sound of it it would work really well for a lot of other majors.

Thinking to my general education classes such as history or comparative literature it would have been easier to throw the multitude of fifty dollar textbooks onto a Kindle to carry to class instead of hauling around the glossy pages. The same goes for art history courses, geography and film studies. Those books are just flat out heavy and unneeded once the course is over.

Some classes cannot be fully transfered to a device like the Kindle. Any language class needs workbooks, upper division science books (for the most part) would serve better in paper format and quick reference books like tables of integrals.

One reason I would really like a Kindle (or would have early on) is so I can store all of the homework assignments, solutions and online lecture notes together in one place. Reading PDFs off the screen is not very pleasant, having them together would really facilitate studying and homework. Especially when you put all of the lecture notes from all of your major classes onto the device.

That would be pretty sweet.

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Study Plan

Well, this was supposed to be posted yesterday but with the new WordPress interface I guess I hit the wrong button. I didn’t notice it not going up since my backup software was able to grab it just fine.

A view from my lecture room last year.

A view from my lecture room last year.

Today started my finals week, I started the long journey of studying. Lucky for me I have taken enough physics finals to know what I need to learn and how to go about doing it.

Essentially every physics class with few exceptions allow for a single sheet of paper worth of notes. So I use the act of writing the notesheet to be my study plan. I break it down into several steps:

Go over my notebook for the class and write down major topics, equations, themes and general knowledge that was learned in lecture. Then I go over any notes provided by the professor, the textbook, past exams and homework solutions to create a list of every important topic of the quarter. I have a habit of writing the word “final” in the margins if a teacher emphasis a particular equation or example in class, or if they flat out say this problem will be on the final. I add those to my list.

I then take my list and structure it into cohesive topics and related fields. At this point I write out everything I listed, based on either my notes or the textbook depending on which notation I have been using for the year.

Sometimes when I finish it all fits on one piece of paper, if not I write it smaller or start to cut things out. In the end I get a single sheet of notes for the class that I can take in for the final. If  a class does not allow note sheets then I now have a note sheet of things I need to know really well.

Depending on the class (and how I did on the homework) I sometimes do extra homework or past exam problems using nothing by my notes and a calculator (if allowed on the final). If I find myself needing something I then add it to the right section of the note sheet and continue on.

This method works for me since I learn best by writing things down as I hear them or in the case of studying think about them.

I don’t know how well this would work for other topics that have a large amount of information that needs to be memorized, math it would probably still work and perhaps engineering. One of the reasons that I like physics is that for the most part a small set of equations is all that is needed to answer most questions.

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