Studying (math focus)

This winter I’ve been teaching math with my dad (how lucky to get to try that!). In his teaching, he stresses the importance of reading. When we are young the majority of the math books are problems to solve. We learn that math is about solving problems. Later on, the textbooks change and become more and more text. This is when more people start having a problem with math. By only trying to solve the problems, first of all, the majority of the book is skipped (ever read one-third of a history book and expected to do well?). Secondly, it’s as hard as trying to read the text in a foreign language without learning the words first. Intuition can help to understand things, but there is no intuition for knowing that a right angle is 90° or that a rectangle has four right angles or what absolute value is. It’s just a concept to learn and memorize. I was teaching 12-year-old girl math and asked her what she did if she didn’t know or remember some math concept. She was not sure. Then I asked her what she did if she didn’t know some word in English. The answer was easy, look it up and repeat it 100 times!

“Look it up and repeat it 100 times!”


Being on the other side of the table, now teaching, has made me think a lot about how to study. I already wrote one article before about studying (Studying vs studying) so I had given this some thought but this time I am focusing more on math and the overall studying process, step by step. I gave a lecture about it to our students and they were happy about having this discussion. It also helped later on when I could remind them of this tip or that tool that would help them in some situations. Here is the summary of my thoughts:

I decided to divide the studying process into

READ -> UNDERSTAND -> REMEMBER -> USE

These steps don’t happen completely linearly, they mix but what is sure is that you have to start by reading(or hearing) the material and the main goal is to be able to use it. For each step, I will give a few points and thoughts on how to make it easier and more effective.

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My advice to incoming University Students

August has always been a special month to me for various reasons. It includes my birthday, and for the past 20 years, mid-August has been the time of excitement and new beginnings, the start of a new school year! This is the first time in twenty years that I will not be attending school. It feels weird, but at the same time, it feels good.
From my twenty-year experience of attending school, thereof six years of University, I have developed my studying skills and learned to make the most of the University years. In this blog, I will share with you some of the things I wish I had known at the start of my University journey.

Make connections

The University is as much a place to network and make connections with people as it is to learn. In University, you have access to great professors in your field, as well as many of the future leaders of the profession, so make sure you get to know your teachers and fellow students. A good relationship with your teachers can be valuable when you need recommendations for scholarships, further studies or a job. Your relationship with classmates might lead to job opportunities as they might recommend you for their new job or have you in mind as a part of their new start-up. But how to make connections and build relationships in University? I have two easy tips for you.

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Studying vs studying

Apparently, it’s not enough to just study, you also should learn how to study. I was lucky enough to get advice from teachers at an early age. Despite that, I’m still adapting my techniques because not only does it differ what works between people but I also don’t always prefer the same things.

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How I study if affected by many factors including (but not bound to)

  • My routine
  • My school schedule
  • Teacher’s way of teaching
  • What kind of material is provided
  • The subject
  • The people I study with

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