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How to Study Science: The Art of Understanding Tough Topics


We were all students once, so we all remember the much-dreaded or much-anticipated “science class.” The suffixes “-ology” and “-istry” still haunt some of us to this day. You may have blocked them out, but remember these conversations?

“Did you cram for that terminology quiz?
“I totally bombed the last lab report.”
“Were you up until 3 AM too?”

It shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that students now aren’t much different. And how do they study science topics to prepare for tests? By cramming and memorizing, depending on short-term memory to do well on the exam!

While a strong academic performance in a science class can be a student’s major point of pride, the same class can also result in crushing defeat if approached poorly. Because of this, we often see students studying long into the night with cram guides, flashcards, and redundant problem sets in order to capture that elusive, sought-after A.

But what if that isn’t the right way for students to study science?

At AJ Tutoring, we encourage creatively distilling complex material into an engaging and productive learning experience for our students. We recognize that every student has a unique way of learning that works best for them. And so, traditional methods of studying for science classes might not be the best for students with a drive to understand why instead of what.

To address these needs, our tutors use studying strategies inspired by the liberal arts, such as effective note-taking, flashcard exercises, and qualitative case studies. We aim to help students move away from rote memorization and toward deeper and more comprehensive learning.

Try some of these methods next time you’re studying for a chemistry (chemistry tuition), physics, or biology quiz!

Five Effective Ways to Study Science

  • Connect concepts to real-world examples whenever possible, like understanding thermodynamics with a boiling pot of water or neuroanatomy with Phineas Gage.
  • Use flashcards to create situations. Randomly pick five cards from different topics and finding a way to connect them together in the same situation.
  • If you’re studying with someone, use teach-backs! Become a teacher and try to explain a concept or come up with an example for your friend to solve.
  • Study in real time! Find examples of plant biology on a walk in the park, or behavioral psychology while waiting in line for a movie.
  • Ask “Why?” as much as you can. Being able to explain why a ball rolls down a hill, or why melatonin makes us sleepy, is the key to moving away from memorization and toward deeper learning.


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