One of the blog readers, Chris, has recently emailed me asking:
I didn’t do as well as I thought I would when I entered university in comp sci. I study hard but I dont think I’m “studying in the right way”. I’m just wondering if you have any “special methods” to study or ways to study comp sci courses to ensure success?
I don’t think there’s any one method to ensure success. Studying, in it’s “study to pass a test” flavour, is simply a way to game the system and success of this route depends just on how well one has learned to cynically manipulate the system. I suggest reading the previous post and discussion on studying, and computer science tests.
The way to “study” for technical fields, like Computer Science, is to review your understanding of the material and practice to cover your weaker areas. [...] Crunch time, a week before final exams, does not form habits, or even offer understanding — it just artificially raises your “knowledge” of the test, for the duration of that test.
So taking learning as an ongoing process instead, what are some of the “special methods” to get the best result? Maybe not so special…
And as usual, wtd adds an excellent point:
Here’s a tip: you’ve done all of your assignments as assigned. Now, take some time, using the knowledge you’ve gained to revisit them all. Go back to that first assignment and approach it anew. Read the description of the problem and all instructions.
The focus here is on two things — get all assignments done on time (as they likely contribute to the course’s grade), but it’s the detailed understanding of the concepts involved that ensure the long-term strategy towards success. Pacing yourself, practicing on regular basis, and avoiding stressful cram sessions is likely a good strategy to follow. Though I suppose that none of this advice is really unique to Computer Science — draw connections to study methods with subjects you already do best in.