How I learned how to study

It took me two and a half years, but I finally learned how to study for things. The technique has two features: you have to be confident, and you have to be dedicated. Since it did take two years, I can see why many people recommend going to community college first for the first two years. I did take some classes at community college, but only a few while I was a high school student that posed no substantial challenge.

Confidence. I’m not usually one who is into the whole “90% of the battle is confidence” bullshit. I’d rather be realistic. And when I took organic chemistry, I didn’t really bother studying very hard at all even though I had free time. In my mind, I thought, “I’m probably going to get a B anyway, I might as well not study.” So I never had any willpower to study. I would attempt to do so, but my eyes would glaze over and my mind would wander. I need pressure in order to study, and I need confidence or something in order to provide that pressure.

Dedication. I wasn’t prepared for what serious studying involved. My first two years, I’d just take my class notes, and read them a day or two before the tests. And I’d take the practice tests if any were avaliable. This worked ok for biology, but not great for organic chemistry where you have to memorize endless numbers of arbitrary reactions. It wasn’t until I took biochemistry that the insane shitfestival of memorization forced me to study in a completely different fashion – in the library for hours at a time. I wasn’t very dedicated for the first midterm in biochemistry, and I just tested to the class average. But then I spent four days in the library going over most of the material and I scored a good chunk above the average. I’d sit down, start studying, and when I got up, it’d be dark outside.

But I’m not fully there. Some things I’m still not willing to do. I’m unwilling to memorize a bunch of random enzyme names like “11-beta hydroxycholesterol synthetase” or “chlorotauric acid cotransporting polypeptide 7A.” It’s inane and stupid to ask me to remember something that I’ll forget in a week and never see again.

I’d always see people with their study material, and they have perfect neat notes and stacks of flash cards. I guess now I know why.

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The Elements of Style

I finished reading Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Many of the rules I learned from high school, some I learned from Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves). A few choicier bits I learned from being pedantic. But this book has use. It made me more aware of my own writing style. I’m trying to reduce both my usage of rhetorical devices and the occasional appearance of “there is”.

Parts of it are laughably oxymoronic. “The approach to style is by way of plainness, simplicity, orderliness, and sincerity” follows a reference to Faulkner, “…luxuriating in that supremely gutful lassitude of convalescence…”

And parts of The Elements don’t even follow the rules that’s outlined inside itself. The book has an amusing wiki, look it up.