It’s not like reading “Twilight”

I know I go over and over how to actually study science. It’s not easy, the least easy part being actually reading the textbook. I have a study outline I pulled off the web to go with my textbook, and I’m always fighting feeling discouraged because science, for me, is not intuitive. A&P is not intuitive. Maybe it is for some people, but not me.

I had to actually google “how to study science,” a awhile back (before my bio course) to figure out how to approach studying, because otherwise, I would have thought that this just wasn’t for me. Also, I would have wasted a ton of time, which is silly considering there’s so much material and content available on the internet and in the public library today.

I went to bed last night after trying to start, at 9:30 p.m. or so, studying Chapter 20. I was tired, and nothing really gets done well when I’m tired. I wasn’t being efficient anymore, and I thought sleeping would be a good way to refresh. That way, I would be able to dominate the material today.

However, I was  supposed to go do something fun today w/ my boyfriend, but this really is the home stretch, so I’m staying inside to try and make progress and possibly (hopefully) take the exam that covers Chapters 20-22.

So, not an hour ago, I ran into my first obstacle. I was doing practice questions, and I got a tiny bit irritated by one question early on when I couldn’t find it in the textbook. I flipped through my study outline, and there it was. I have to figure out why it’s that hard to find it in the textbook.

So, before letting that feeling of irritation bloom into outright defeat, I googled “how to read a science textbook” again and came up with this page, which reasoned firmly and kindly with me:

The first thing to know about much science writing is that it is information dense.  That is, it seems like there is a new idea in every sentence and every paragraph.  This can make for slow reading since it’s generally quite important that you understand each idea before moving on to the next idea.  Science writing, like science classes, tends to be linear and cumulative.  If you don’t understand paragraph one, it’s unlikely that the paragraphs that follow will become understandable.

Recommendation #1:  Read slowly and thoughtfully.   Be prepared to stop and think as you read.  Reading just to “get through the material” is a waste of time.


Recommendation #2:  “Pre-read” a section at a more rapid pace just to get a sense of the overall picture; then return to the beginning and re-read at least once in a more meticulous fashion.

What I’m really curious about now is how my friends who were science majors actually developed this skill. My biggest problem with reading fiction was sucking down books. I learned how to skim and scan and “tag” words. I’ve done this as long as I can remember because I never learned to be patient.

You’d think that studying economics would have gotten me to slow down, but economics is not really that difficult. A far portion of it is constructed around ideas that can be easily applied, and mathematics, which is generally  like cracking code.  It can be really fun.

So I have to learn and re-learn how to be patient with the material. I don’t know why, suddenly, at the end of this course, I’m becoming so impatient. I guess I just want to get this class over with and start pre-studying chemistry, microbiology, and physics (which is my big plan for the summer so I can ace the classes next year and hopefully ease the pain of taking three science courses at once), so I can feel better about the whole “leaving my job and going to school.” It would also help me feel better about being able to start studying for the PCAT, if I could just start that and stop with this now.

The trouble is that if I did a subpar job on the chapter exam and a subpar job on the final, I would end up with an A- that could have been avoided. I need the confidence that an A gives people. I don’t want to just slide by. I want to do better than that. So I have to battle the convoluted way the textbook is presenting the material by being prepared to study the chapter, even if it means studying the outlines first, looking at my “Anatomy for Dummies” guide, looking at the chapter outlines in the back, and then going to the meat of chapter.


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