How to study for STEM subjects

If you’re taking a class that falls under the STEM category (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and you’re struggling, you might be wondering what you’re doing wrong. Because you study…and study…and study, but still, nada.

Well, that’s assuming you actually study. So if you don’t, then that might be a good start.

But the next question is, what is the correct way to study?

There is no ‘right’ answer. You probably knew I was going to say that. But let’s take this blog post to briefly review the various steps you should incorporate to ensure you have all your bases covered when preparing for an upcoming quiz, test, etc.

1. Understand the concepts

Do you understand the theory of the topic you’re learning? Meaning, would you be able to explain what it is, how it works, why it works the way it does? Or is it just a bunch of abstract various facts in your head that are just sitting there in a jumble? Make sure you get the theory, even if you can’t apply it- yet.

2. Apply the concepts.

Okay, now comes the application of the theory. Can you apply your understanding of concepts and formulas/equations/etc to solve a problem? STEM studies are largely based on solving for some unknown given a set of information. Theory is needed to understand the right approach to solving the problem, while application is knowing how to maneuvar through the various steps involved to get the answer.

3. Practice. 

It’s time to put the pedal to the medal. The absolute best way to master a STEM learning objective is to practice, practice, practice. ESPECIALLY when you’re studying a more challenging course like Transfer Phenomena where it seems like everything is an exception to the rule. Luckily, there are a vast number of subjects where rules are law and exceptions are few or non-issue for intensive purposes, so drilling through problems is a solid way to solidify your grasp on the application.

4. Get help.

Duh, right? But seriously. Get help if you need it, because there’s nothing wrong with getting help. Sometimes it feels embarrassing, sometimes it feels like you should know it without help, sometimes it just feels like you don’t want it. But, a little bit of help can go a long way. Maybe all you need is a slight tweak in your thinking process to really get it, and help, whether from your teacher, peers, tutor, or family, is the key. And once you think you get it….PRACTICE.

5. If you haven’t done so already, go over your notes.

And that means you can highlight notes, and even take notes on your notes. Some people swear by writing things down as improving their memory and understanding. So rewriting important notes may be beneficial to your study.

6. Use the textbook/resources.

I have seen it, I have experienced it myself, but oftentimes there is an inherent loathing for using the textbook. I don’t know why, but it’s true. Maybe because textbooks hold such an overwhelming amount of information and its annoying to sort through, maybe because you fall asleep trying to read through it. But textbooks can sometimes provide that inkling of insight that you need for something to click. And they can be great reference tools for points you’re confused on- it just might answer your question. So, please, give it a try. And finally, they almost always have great PRACTICE problems. Take advantage.

7. The Internet

Need I say more? You can ask questions in forums, find practice problems and drills, look up explanations, the list goes on. No excuses.

 

That’s it for the brief overview of things you should be incorporating in your study plan, especially if you’re struggling with a subject. Remember, STEM studies are heavily based on facts and objective factors, so it IS possible to get a 100%. It IS possible to excel. You CAN get it. You CAN do it. So focus, practice, and achieve.

What’s a study technique you’ve found particularly helpful in your study journey? Share in the comments below!

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