Study STEM Smarter

By Joey Liang

Title Photo by: Parker Floris

When I first started university 3 years ago, I was very unprepared. I thought it would be like high-school and things would work out fine. If I listened and did the questions, I would do well. But the cold, hard truth is that universities use every single trick up their sleeves to get you to work harder and smarter. 

So here are my two cents that I earned the hard way to work smarter and really absorb the knowledge as you proceed on to uni as a STEM student:

Taking notes always seems to be like the smart and efficient way to study - the chocolate for your brain. But, sometimes too much chocolate isn’t good for you. In most STEM courses, the lecturers’ scribbles on the blackboard are downloadable later (some lecturers will even have their own notes of what they write on the blackboard), so get those copies.

If you spend the whole lecture having your head down and trying to copy everything, those notes are aren't very good. Instead, record the headers or just a quick description of what's important, and really concentrate on the lecture and follow your lecturer’s thought process. 
Following this, when you’re finished with your lectures you’ll be left with a condensed piece of paper containing things that are important or confusing. Don’t read the lecture notes just yet though. Here is what to do next, it’ll be killing two birds with one stone.

Open the tutorial questions, and then attempt them. A lot of people simply look at the questions instead of attempting them, which is an express lane to pre-exam panic. As you attempt tutorial questions, refer back to the lecture notes and then try to identify what you know and what you don’t know. If you get stuck, no big deal, simply skip them and make some quick notes on your thought process. You can ask those questions during tutorials or consultations hours, or even after the tutorials; the teaching staff in UNSW is lovely and they would love to stay back longer and help you out.
Speaking about relaxing and hanging out, it’s actually an important part of studying smarter too. Have you ever sat inside all day and tried to study but by the end, it just left you burnt out and feeling like you did nothing? That's a consequence of you ignoring your mental and physical wellbeing in favour of cramming. Unfortunately, this trade is a lose-lose situation, sacrificing mental and physical health in return for more stress. 

So, get your schedule out, and dedicate at least an hour a day where you can go out for a run, play sports, hang out with your friends, or even better, join Blitz and hang out with us while volunteering! When you feel good, studying is much easier.

Use this as a guide to help you get the most out of your time at uni, studying smart, and playing hard.

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