Jeremy Côté


Can You Explain It?

Despite needing to compute many quantities in my various physics and mathematics classes, I like to take a slightly different approach to studying for a test. First, I will do a bunch of practice problems in order to strengthen the “muscle memory” of how to do certain types of questions. This usually means going over assignments and doing examples. This particularly helps with refreshing my mind for questions I haven’t done in a few weeks.

However, this isn’t the complete extent to which I prepare for my tests. When it is the night before my test, I make sure to review concepts instead of specific problems. What this means is that I won’t be doing actual calculations. Instead, I’ll make sure I can explain the steps that I need to do in order to solve certain questions. What this does is refresh my mind to the types of questions that may be asked during the test, and I find this gives me the confidence that I know what I am talking about. While some may simply do the exact homework problems again, I want to make sure that I can adapt to something different on the test. My hope is that doing this will get me thinking about the concepts in general.

As such, I’d suggest trying the same during one of your tests. Don’t just do the practice problems and call it a day. Make an effort to be able to explain what you’re doing and the things you should be looking for in order to solve certain questions.