How to Succeed in Economics 2103
Lee C. Adkins
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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 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.
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.
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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