If exams are around the corner for you, that probably means you’re freaking out (like me) about all the studying you’ll need to do and you are in desperate need to know how to catch up with uni and the necessary coursework before the studying period begins. I’ll give you guys some tips on how to catch up and still maintain a little bit of sanity in the process.
Regardless of the reason why you may need to catch up, this is what you need to know:
1. Know what you will need to know:
Maybe if you’re like me, you missed the first two weeks of school and you have no idea what they were even talking about: now is the time to figure that out. It’s not enough to know that you missed, for example, a maths lecture; you need to know what exactly the teacher was covering. Staying on my example of missing the first two weeks of school, from your timetable, you can see that you have maths lectures twice a week, so that’s four maths classes. You can ask for help from your friends or you can try going to your school’s website. If that fails (which it probably will, because those things can be confusing as heck), just ask the lecturers for the topics of their previous lectures (use this time to introduce yourself and explain your situation, so he/she doesn’t think that you’ve just been muting him/her out all this time).
2. Know what you don’t know:
Now that you know the topics of the lectures, you can start making plans for your next move. Again, on the maths example, you know that you missed 4 maths lectures and that in those lectures, for example, functions and linear algebra were discussed. What is the background information that you have about those two topics? Are those topics to you Arabic spelled backwards or do you know a little bit about them? Maybe you remember it from A-levels or high school? If you do, treasure this information, it will help you. With that, read the notes from your friends, tutor or even uni website. What do you know and what don’t you know? This is a way to make the task of learning less daunting because you won’t have to learn about 25 chapters worth of material in a week’s time while still learning other stuff, you’ll only have to skim over the first few chapters and actually only study the last ones.
3. Know why you don’t know that:
After that, the final questions you need to ask yourself are “why don’t I know this?” Was it because you missed last week’s lecture or was it because you maybe didn’t understand it very well? Trust me it makes a huuuge difference. The former means that you really only need to revise one thing and the latter means that you need to freshen up on your coursework, which will be more time consuming (but worth it in the end). The point is to get enough information for you to start planning your strategy. This way, you’ll already have an idea of how long it might take, how to intertwine those revisions with your current lectures (don’t make the mistake of falling back on the current ones too) and it will help you to know what questions you need to ask without wasting time on things that you already knew but didn’t realize.
4. Find the “smart guy” of the university or identify your “smart friends”.
Now that you know what you need to know and what you don’t know, you can obviously revise it by yourself using a textbook, youtube or even the school website. However, I’m the type of person that when I don’t know something that others do, I immediately start making that thing bigger and more intimidating in my head, so if I go straight to the textbook for example, it all tends to look confusing to me. So the best thing for you, if you’re like that too, is to ask questions to people that you feel are “on the same level” as you. It can be a bit intimidating and embarrassing to ask your 17 Nobel prize-winning Ph.D. professor how to do, what will feel like, 1+1, so just ask a fellow colleague that you feel has grasped the concept. Since you already know what you don’t know at this point, you already have the questions, which will make the tutoring session go by smoother and faster because you aren’t trying to figure out everything under pressure. You will also make your new impromptu tutor take you seriously and get motivated to help you because let’s be honest here, nobody wants to help the guy that somehow isn’t in any of your lectures but still manages to always be in your class year after year. Show your “tutor” that you value their time and that you weren’t just sleeping on the day of the lecture.
5. Talk to your professors.
After talking to your impromptu tutor you should already have the theory down pat. Now you should start trying to do exercises on it and try to put the theory to test. Try to do some exercises that should be available on your school website (if there’s not, then good thing you’re already going to the professor’s office, ask him for some) and take them to your professor for him to tell you if it’s correct or not and try to clear up a few doubts. Make sure to do this during your professor’s business hours (or just email them to set up a meeting) and not during lectures to give him a chance to actually focus on what you’ve shown him.
Anyways guys, I hope this was as helpful to you as it would have been to me if I had figured this out sooner, but hey, I took one for the team. Comment down below what you’re studying in school and tell us some of your catching up tricks and tips!