How to Pass a Class Without Really Studying
Studying may not be your forte, but that shouldn't prevent you from passing your class! By paying attention in class and by making an effort to get the most out of your class time, you may be able to pass your class without studying. Additionally, by making connections between what you are learning and what you already know, you can increase your ability to remember important concepts on test day. Using mnemonics, completing homework assignments and taking advantage of extra credit opportunities may also make a difference between passing and failing your class.
Paying Attention in Class
Sit near the front, within the first three rows.By sitting in the front, you will be able to see and hear your teacher better. This way, you can pick up on your teacher’s verbal and visual cues that communicate which parts of the lecture material are the most important.
- Additionally, try sitting in the same seat every time. Sitting in the same seat may help trigger your memory on exam days.
- Get to class five minutes early so you can find a seat near the front. You may be surprised to see how fast these seats fill up.
Minimize distractions.Make sure to put away any distractions like phones, computers, iPads and other electronic devices. If you have to, put your phone on silent or turn it off. This way, you can give your teacher and the class material your full attention.
- Additionally, try to avoid sitting near people who do not pay attention during class since this can be distracting as well.
Come up with a note-taking system that works for you.Make an outline, type your notes on a computer, draw diagrams, or record the lecture (if it is allowed). Also, don’t write down everything the teacher says. Instead, write down keywords, short sentences of the main ideas, and examples the teacher uses to explain difficult concepts.
- Additionally, write your notes in your own words by rephrasing what your teacher says when they pause. This will help you remember important concepts better on test day.
- Abbreviate words so you can take faster notes, and try to use them consistently so you won’t get confused.
Ask questions.Whenever you don’t understand a concept, or the teacher says something that is not clear, ask questions to clear up your confusion. Ask the teacher to use a different example or to explain the concept differently. You can also ask clarifying questions about your notes.
- For example, “Mr. Roberts, in my notes it says that a well-structured essay contains at least five components—an introduction, three supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. Is this correct, or am I missing anything important?”
- If your teacher talks fast, don’t be afraid to ask them to slow down or repeat what they just said.
Getting the Most Out of Your Class Time
Go to every class.Make sure to attend every class, lab or discussion, even if it is not required. If you skip a class, you may miss out on important information, which is something you cannot afford if you do not plan on studying much.
- For example, during class, your teacher may give hints about what material will be on the test.
- Attending optional labs or class discussions will allow you to get some one-on-one time with your teacher. Use this time to ask questions about class materials, tests and extra-credit opportunities.
Discuss topics with your classmates.Compare your notes with one or two other students in the class who also pay attention, take good notes and ask questions. Discuss discrepancies in your notes and abstract topics to deepen your understanding of the course material.
- Discussing things out loud will help you create associations between your personal experiences and the course material. This will help you remember important ideas on exam day better.
Participate in class discussions.Whenever your teacher puts you and your classmates into groups to discuss topics, make sure to take advantage of this time to work out complex ideas. Additionally, when your teacher asks the class questions, try to answer them even if you are unsure of the answer. This way, you can test your knowledge to see what you think you know and what you actually know.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions that may seem "stupid" to you. More often than not, they are not stupid at all, and other people are wondering the same thing.
- Don't feel embarrassed by answering a question incorrectly. After all, this is how you learn, and your teacher will still appreciate the effort.
Talk to your teacher.Don’t forget to introduce yourself to your teacher. Let your teacher know what you hope to learn from the class. Also ask your teacher about their teaching style. This will help you prepare for class and take better notes during class.
- Go to your teacher’s office hours or speak with them after class. Use this time to clarify concepts and to ask for feedback on your notes, essays, or exams.
- Alternatively, meet and talk with the teaching assistant (TA) if you are uncomfortable with or intimidated by talking to your teacher.
Creating Links Between Information
Ask yourself questions as you take notes in class and learn new concepts.This will allow you to make associations between what you already know and what you're learning. When test day comes, these associations will help you remember the material better.
- Be sure to ask yourself if you understand the material, however. If you don't understand, then ask yourself more questions about how it fits into what you are learning.
- Ask yourself, "How does this relate to something I already know?" or "Does it relate to other data, observations, stories or subjects?"
Draw a concept web illustrate their relationships to each other.Write the new concept in the middle of your notes and circle it. Next, draw lines straight out from the circle to create connections to related concepts; these are your secondary concepts. Circle the secondary concepts and create connections to tertiary concepts.
- Keep doing this until your run out of associations.
Use metaphors to connect unlike concepts.Metaphors will help you connect seemingly different ideas and concepts to each other. This is a powerful way to remember complex ideas.
- If you're learning about economic cycles, try relating it to a wave as it rises and falls. As a wave slowly forms, reaches a peak and then crashes, so does the economy.
Use songs, rhymes, or acronyms to strengthen your memory.You can also use rhymes and acronyms to help you remember new material better. Repeat the rhyme or song to yourself throughout the day. This way, when test day comes, you can rely on these mnemonic techniques to help you remember the important information.
- Make a song out of the important concepts to the tune of the ABC's or Itsy Bitsy Spider, for example.
- Alternatively, use a familiar or catchy tune to make a song out of new ideas and concepts.
Review your notes before class.The night before class or right before, take ten to fifteen minutes to review your notes from previous classes. Use this time to pinpoint concepts that are still confusing or vague. Write down questions that you can ask your teacher to clear up your confusion.
- Additionally, write down your reactions or thoughts to the course material. Bring these up in class to engage and create a discussion with your classmates and the teacher.
Complete your homework assignments.Completing your homework assignments will allow you to assess how well you know the material. It will also help reinforce the material you already understand.
- You should do this whether it is pre-reading the material, or completing worksheets or practice quizzes.
- As you do your homework, write down questions that you have about concepts that you can bring up in class.
Seek out extra credit opportunities.A few extra points on your exams or final grade may make a big difference between passing and failing a class. Scan your syllabus to see what extra credit opportunities are available. If none are listed, then ask your teacher if they plan to announce any opportunities throughout the semester.
- If your teacher does not plan on giving extra credit, try asking if you can write an essay about a topic, or a discussion or film that pertains to the course material for extra credit.
- Don't pester your teacher for extra credit, however. If they tell you "no" several times, then they are unlikely to change their mind.
Sources and Citations
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