How to Succeed in Economics 2103

Lee C. Adkins
E-mail: lee.adkins@okstate.edu

Directory of Contents

Read the Book

Attend Class

Review Your Notes

Concentrate

Use the Study Guide

Rewrite Your Notes

Don't Cram

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If you want to succeed in Econ 2103 there are several things which you must do on a regular basis. Average students (those with 2.5 GPA) can usually make above average grades in my class if they develop proper study habits. The basic rule of thumb is: Spend 6 hours per week studying economics and success is likely to follow. Here is my personal formula for improving performance.

Read the Book

Read the book. Read assigned material before coming to class. This prevents what I call the foreign language syndrome (FLS). FLS occurs when students attend class, but don't have a clue as to what the professor is saying... he is apparently speaking in an unknown tongue. Students then rationalize not attending class by saying to themselves, "I don't get anything out of his lectures."

Attend Class

Attend class regularly. For most, reading the book and completing the study guide are necessary but not sufficient conditions for doing well in Econ. You will find that by attending class you will often discover what the teacher finds important. If the teacher believes something is important, then ... . By attending class and paying attention to what I say, you will often be able to economize on the amount of material you need to cover on your own.

Concentrate

When you are in class, you should concentrate on what I'm talking about.  Just sitting in class does little for you.  Try to actually think about what is being said and what that means about the things in your experience.  If you have trouble concentrating, then you should increase the number of times you study, and decrease the duration of those sessions.  For instance, study for 20 minutes in three sessions rather than a single 1-hour session.  Remember, multitasking is for underachievers ....
   
Concentrating for 75 minutes in Tuesday - Thursday lecture classes is very hard to do, but try.  It will help.  I'll help by trying to condense lectures to smaller time blocks and then letting you go when finished.

Review Your Notes

After each class, it's a good idea to review that day's notes. Take a few minutes to make sure everything you have written down is 1) correct and 2) makes sense to you. You will usually find "truth" in you textbook. If your notes or your book don't make sense, either figure out why or ask about it in the next class. If you solve each of these little puzzles as you go along, then when test time comes you'll be working under much less stress and will tend to do much better.

Use the Study Guide

The study guide will give you much needed practice in answering questions like those you'll see on the exam. How often have I seen students bomb the first exam simply because they weren't used to seeing questions put in that format. Practice makes perfect ... And besides, it's not unusual for me to put a few of these on the exams.

This tip also applies to the website setup by the publisher of your textbook.  Nearly all modern editions of economics principles texts have very nifty websites that contain a wealth of information, including practice tests, videos, flashcards, etc.  Although some of these materials require you to subscribe, in nearly every instance the entire contents of the website are available for less money than you'd spend on a study guide.  Also, when you buy a new book, these materials are usually included for free.  If you need practice, use the publisher's website to your advantage. 

Rewrite Your Notes

If you are really serious about improving your grade, I've found that it is a good idea to rewrite your notes at least once before the exam. There is some mysterious force at work in the universe which imparts greater understanding and memory to those who actively participate in the learning process. Active participation includes such things as discussion and writing. Reading notes is not active. Writing the notes is active, and by doing this, you will improve comprehension and retention and will improve your grade.

Don't Cram

For the type of thinking exams you will encounter in this class, it is very important that you keep up and study as you go along. And, whatever you do, please don't stay up all night studying before an exam. This is just about the biggest mistake one can make in an economics class. At that point, you will do better with a fresh mind than one dulled with fatigue and filled loose 'facts'.

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