(Learning in) Your Courses
This area provides comprehensive information on preparing for your classes, keeping up with coursework on a regular basis, and reviewing what you’ve learned after class. Use the tips in this chapter to help you study for exams more efficiently.
Preparing for class
Before signing up for a class, find out the most important information about the course’s format and design.
- What’s on the syllabus?
- What are the grading criteria and attendance requirements?
- Does the course fit in your semester schedule?
The course catalog can give you a good overview of the courses you’re interested in. After signing up for a course using the LPIS system, you can already access the learning materials provided by the course instructor even before the first class. These are usually uploaded to LEARN as slides, review questions, and sample exams. For a manual on the available features and the use of the LPIS system, please click here.
It’s a good idea to take a look at the topics covered by the course before the first class. Are you familiar with any of the topics or are they all completely new? Sometimes you’ll have prior knowledge from school or classes you have already taken. Look over the resources provided briefly and familiarize yourself with key concepts. After the first class you will realize that your classes are more interesting and you will get much more out of them if you are already (somewhat) familiar with the subject. You will also find it easier to actively participate and ask questions.
Tip: Brush up on Prior knowledge to better recognize the gaps between what you already know and what you need to learn.
Take notes as keywords in class. This is the best way to make sure you continue to pay attention – when you are actively listening and taking notes on the most important information, your thoughts will have no chance to wander. If you’re not really listening, you’re not only wasting valuable time sitting in the classroom, you will also have to re-learn what was taught in class on your own. Another advantage of taking notes is that you will have them to refer to when studying for exams. Ask questions in class if there’s something you don’t immediately understand. You can also ask the instructor to provide examples to illustrate their point and help you grasp the concept more easily.
So what is the most effective and efficient way to take notes? More on that below.
Use abbreviations: Abbreviations are used for many common words, which helps to save time when taking notes. Examples include “e.g.” for “for example,” “i.e.” for “that is,” or “cf.” for “see also.” This list includes a number of abbreviations for common German words, and this page has some good tips for abbreviations to use when taking notes in English.
Create your own sign language: Using your own individual system of symbols to add structure and emphasis to your notes can be very helpful, especially when studying for exams. Examples include “!” for emphasis, “?” for open questions, or ↓ for “see below.”
What’s the most effective way to study for tests? Check out the “Exams” section of the Study Support Area for more information.
Don’t wait too long to review your notes from class. Do you still understand everything you wrote down during the lecture? Have a look at the studying materials available on LEARN. Can you apply what you learned and the notes you took to specific questions? Try answering the review questions or doing other assignments related to the course topic.
Congratulations if you have already grasped the concepts presented in class, but don’t give up if you can’t answer a specific question. Instead, ask yourself what the problem could be. Would another look at the studying materials (e.g. the slides from class) help, or could you consult a reference book? If you’re still stuck, take advantage of the instructor’s office hours, posted on the institute webpages. Before going to office hours, make sure you have prepared specific questions you want to ask. You may also have the opportunity to ask brief, specific questions during the next class.
Follow this advice and before you know it, you’re in the middle of studying for your exams and you will be well prepared when exam time comes.
- Fuhrmann, Bettina (2018): Soll ich anders lernen als bisher? In: Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Hrsg.): move! Der WU-Guide für Studierende, 14th edition. Wien: WU-Wien, 44 - 50
- Turecek, Katharina / Peterson, Birgit (2010): Handbuch Studium. Effizient und erfolgreich lernen, schreiben und präsentieren. EU: Hubert Krenn VerlagsgesmbH
- Turecek, Katharina (2010): Die 99 besten Lerntipps. EU: Hubert Krenn VerlagsgesmbH