Studies and Studying: How do top students study?


Check out this post by MIT almost perfect-scorer, on how to study. His secret is to study the material in advance, before the lessons even start! This is really a useful strategy, if implemented correctly. Imagine being in Primary 3 and already knowing the Primary 4 syllabus! Primary 3 Math will be a breeze then. This is one of the reasons why China students are so good at Math – they have already studied it back in China, where the Math syllabus is more advanced!

Do try out this strategy if you are really motivated to improve in your studies. The prime time to do this is during the June and December holidays – take some time to read ahead what is going to be learnt during the next semester.

This is an excerpt of the thread:

I graduated from MIT with a GPA of 4.8 (out of 5.0) in mathematics. I had two non-As, both of which were non-math classes.

That doesn’t imply that I have good study methods, but anyway, here’s how I studied at MIT. My main study method as an undergraduate, for math classes, was knowing a sizable chunk of the material in advance.

This isn’t a method that will work for everybody. I did a lot of mathematics outside of the classroom both in high school and at MIT, and I often saw a substantial portion of the material in a given class before I took it. I can’t emphasize enough how much easier this makes a class, and not just for the reasons you might expect: one of the most valuable things you get out of knowing a lot of the material already is just not being intimidated by it. (And you can get this benefit even if you’ve only seen some of the material before and possibly forgotten some of it too.) You’re much more relaxed, and that makes it easier to process the part of the material that you don’t know.

What that translates to in terms of practical advice is this:

  • cultivate a sense of curiosity,
  • don’t restrict your learning to the classroom,
  • only take classes that actually seem really interesting to you, and
  • try to learn something related to those classes the semester before.

None of this is advice for studying for a class you’re taking now, but it’s advice for reducing the extent to which you will need to study for classes you’ll take in the future.

– Qiaochu Yuan

Author: mathtuition88

2 thoughts on “Studies and Studying: How do top students study?”

  1. Reblogged this on Scribing English and commented:
    This is really helpful, and quite true. When I decided I was going to go back to school, the first thing I did was start re-capping on my math skills. If you are confident in the base knowledge you have, it’s a lot easier to build off that foundation.


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