Study Tips

Peer Tutors and PASS Leaders are students who've done exceptionally well in the courses that they tutor/lead. We asked our Leaders to tell us what study habits worked for them. Learning is a highly individual and unique process for everyone, have a look at what helped our leaders then do what works for you!

General Study Tips

- Assigned problems must always be completed and set as priority

- Keep track of problems that you have difficulty getting right, come back to them later

- Review lecture notes within 48 hours after each lecture

- Use Bethune College academic services like Peer Tutoring sessions and PASS sessions when you encounter problems with course materials


MATH 1505/1013/1014

- Look up key points first, make sure you know all theorems before you try problems

- Go over the difficult integral and derivative problems right before the exam, they often tie together techniques used to solve the easier problems

- When setting aside time to study or do practice problems, be realistic. Problems and struggles are often encountered during problem sets, so you may need to account for this when organizing a study schedule.

- Try to conceptualize word problems and/or integrals/derivatives graphically if applicable, as this can often lead to better understanding and improved proficiency with graphing problems later on.

- Do a consistent number of problems/practice every day to ensure familiarity with solving techniques.

- Always work some kind of an answer before checking the answer to a problem.

- Try to do as many problems as possible to ensure that you understand how to apply course material to a wide range of problems.

- Practice doing the example problems in the chapters before tackling the end of chapter problems. Writing out solutions to the solved/example problems by yourself helps your understanding.

- Use every day examples when trying to understand problems (ex. think of velocity/acceleration when doing derivatives).

- Make use of Wolfram alpha as a supplement to your learning if you ever need more in depth explanations or solutions.

- Always do problems assigned by the professor, but if they are not enough to get you to a comfortable level of understanding, you can specifically look for similar problems in the textbook to give you some more practice.

- Try to mainly attempt solving problems for which you do not see an immediate solution. Once you begin to develop this intuition for solving problems of a certain type, it would be best to move on to the next concept.

- Specific to Math 1013/1014, once you’re comfortable with most of the material, you can try the question highlighted in red text to challenge yourself and ensure that you have a strong grasp of all the concepts.

- In application problems, make sure to carry units throughout your calculations. At the end, you will be able to verify if your process is correct given that your units make sense.


BIOL 1000/1001, 2021

- Make every concept into a story if possible. This will help you remember both large ideas and smaller details.

- Draw out or sketch the big ideas and concepts.

- Try to focus on what your professor focuses on, and move down to the details after you’ve understood those fundamentals.

- Making mind maps helps a lot for biology. Especially for exam or midterm review.

- Mnemonics will help you memorize things, so try using them as much as you can.

- Discussing concepts in groups will help a lot and may uncover details that you had not previously known.

- Always keep the major idea in mind: what is the experiment and what is the goal. The details make more sense if you can keep the big picture in mind, and often, this allows you to logically piece things together even if you don’t remember them immediately.

- For Biol 2021, pictures and figures illustrate the most important concepts in the course, so know what they are, what they describe, and what their purposes are before reading the captions.

- For Biol 2021, use your “cheat” sheet mainly as a tool to verify details during the test (ex. pathways, dark reaction, etc). If you rely on it too much, you may risk spending too much time reading it.

- For Biol 2021, colour coding your “cheat” sheet can be a useful strategy when organizing it. Making multiple drafts of it will also make it clearer, more organized, and help you retain the material better.

- For Biol 2021, avoid using someone else’s “cheat” sheet or an old copy.


BIOL 2040

- Be familiar with the different statistical tests and when to apply which ones (ex. chi squares test).

- Learn to differentiate between the different situations that a pedigree can illustrate.

- Know basic rules of probability well.

- Learn how to solve some problems without punnet squares, because they are impractical for big/elaborate problems.

- If you must, you can take big problems and use multiple punnet squares to solve them.

- Focus on understanding phenotypic ratios by doing as many problems involving them as possible. With enough practice, you can develop and intuition for the ratios which will help you move quickly on the test.

- Keep in mind that it is a problems-based course, so typical studying strategies used for math courses are encouraged.



- See if you can connect lab experience to course material. Lab experience often gives an added dimension of understanding o word problems.

- If you find your textbook difficult to understand, you can try looking at other textbooks at our libraries that address specific concepts.

- Time yourself when doing some problems, as lengthy ones will leave you pressed for time on the tests.

- Always write out given data immediately when solving word problems.

- If your professor allows, you can use a calculator that can find derivatives or solve quadratics to avoid making mistakes. Follow calculator rules, but knowing the full functionality of your calculator can help avoid calculation errors and simplify problem solving.

- Conceptualize, visualize, or draw out problems. Doing so will often steer you in the right direction, and you can always reference your diagrams if you get lost while trying to come up with a solution.

- Lots of practice is important, try to do as many problems as possible to learn the various ways that course concepts are applied.

- Try to understand theories, formulas, and concepts on a fundamental level to develop an intuition for how to use them.

- Try to understand the meaning of each variable (ex. understand the physical meaning or significance of potential energy without any mathematical reference).

- Work in groups for physics. Being able to talk about problems helps the progression of understanding.


Organic Chemistry

- Molecular model kits are optional, but if you have difficulty visualizing concepts such as chirality, they help immensely. Use them until you get an intuition for molecules in 3D.

- Avoid memorizing anything but the mechanisms. Try to understand the theory instead.

- Consistent practice is crucial for this course, and even simply rewriting or drawing mechanisms every day is enough to keep it all fresh in your mind.

- Group studying is very helpful, especially when practicing mechanism problems because you will benefit from the various perspectives and approaches of your peers

- Other textbooks help a lot for organic chemistry because it’s a very dynamic field and different points of view help.

- Labs are very applicable to course understanding, and a skilful lab mind helps immensely when trying to solve mechanism problems because it puts realistic mechanisms and reactions into perspective. It can also help you remember which solvents are appropriate for which reagents.

- After you’ve completed the assigned problems, try to do all the other applicable ones because they will likely make for a well-rounded understanding of material.

- The course kit summarizes everything, including mechanisms. Make good use of it for reference instead of flipping through the hundreds of textbook pages of scattered information.

- Past tests are very helpful because they present fresh new problems, but do not rely on them or believe that they will be indicative of yours.


CHEM 1000/1001

- Try to do consistent review beginning two weeks before any midterms, reading over any theories and practicing a couple problems each day.

- Timing will be difficult on tests. Time yourself when doing problems around 3 days before any tests to ensure this is not an issue.

- Read the chapter/theory before lectures. This will help you follow along with new concepts that you may not already be familiar with.

- Study groups near midterms will help clear up details on the theory.

- Always carry units, and be able to manipulate SI units and do conversions with ease. This will be essential for nearly every chemistry course.

- Categorize the types of problems in the book and tackle each individually. Once you’re done them all, only then should you tackle problems that connect concepts.

- Memorize strong acids, bases, and polyatomic ions, because recognizing them is often key to solving many problems in the acids and bases unit

- Know periodic trends EN, atomic size, orbitals, and ionization with good proficiency, because these will give you clues when you have to make Lewis structures, write out reactions, or even drawing atoms or molecules.

- A fundamental understanding of how redox reagents transfer electrons throughout a battery cycle will allow you to excel in the electrochemistry sections. You will both heighten your familiarity of the compounds used, while also understanding problems easier and eventually faster as well.

- One of the keys to the Gases section is to fundamentally understand the major gas laws. You should tackle problems that target the individual gas laws before trying problems that incorporate them all together.

- If you have the time, the integrated problems section is a good measure of your understanding. Typically, if you can do even a couple of those problems, you can be confident in your understanding of the chapter’s material. Note that this should be one of the last steps in your study routine.



KINE 3030 (Biomechanics)

- Make sure you know the difference between terminologies (ie. Kinetics and kinematics)

- Make sure to carry units throughout your calculations. At the end, you will be able to verify if your process is correct given that your units make sense. Learn how to translate everything into free-body diagrams.

- Diagrams are very important to attacking problems appropriately. Often times the most difficult part of solving questions is simply making the appropriate diagram, so practice them a lot.

- Spend time trying to convert a motion to a graph and vice versa.

- With gait analysis, try to visualize the curves associated with knee and ankle angles while drawing. This will also help you understand where the major phases (stance and swing) start and end, while also indicating critical points like heel contact and toe lift.



- There is a lot of proofing and definition sets in this course, so it is crucial that you be especially comfortable with this material.

- In many instances, there are several ways to go about answering problems in this course. In such situations, always try to check with a TA or prof to ensure that your method is valid.

- Do not attempt to memorize the concepts, instead you should understand proofs and definition sets to fully be able to apply them.

- Reading ahead becomes an asset in this course because the material can often be confusing when first presented in lecture. Be sure to stay on top of the schedule.



CSE 1030

1. Practice: This is the most important tip of all. This is the most problematic area for most students in any CSE course not just CSE 1030. Always seek to solve new problems on what is being taught in lectures, and don’t just try to solve problems when a lab test or lab is imminent. Better still, develop your own problems and try to solve them and share with your peers.

2. Assimilate key theoretical concepts in your own way: In CSE, we do not care if you can give so many definitions; the most important thing at the end of the day is how you can use the concepts learnt in lectures to solve real world problems. Although, it is important that you have an astute understanding of these concepts. So do not memorize definitions but try to explain them to your peers using examples you can relate to the real world.

5. Don’t over-complicate things: Think of a problem in a simplified and modular way. In CSE 1030, we think methods. Break down the problem into smaller parts and solve those parts. Then bring them together to make the full solution.

6. Plan/flowchart often: The difference between a good programmer and an average programmer is planning. It is the most important piece of the puzzle when trying to find a solution to any problem. Sit down for a couple of minutes, read the problem, grab a piece of paper and plan/make flowcharts on how you are going to solve it. Those few minutes of planning, even if it’s just good pseudo code, can save you from hours of frustration and possibly a bad lab test grade.

7. Ask questions: It is true that programming can be a little daunting at times with brand new concepts that are quite hard to understand. In the lectures, if you do not understand, feel free to ask the professor about that part of a concept that you find hard to grab. The last thing you want is not understanding a concept and keeping quiet because you might just be losing out on a key tool which you could use to solve problems.

8. Use all resources available to you: Do not hit a road block and then panic. There is a wealth of resources available to you not just at York but on the internet to help you when you get stuck. Here at York, Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) for CSE1030 and Peer Tutoring are programs offered by Bethune College to help you get better in programming and other courses; and if those are not enough to quench your thirst for more knowledge, remember Google is definitely your friend. Most importantly, do not expect people to do the work for you, you will still have to put forth the effort.