Tips and Hints on How to Succeed in a Class

Dr. Yingcai Xiao

Keys: read, think and exercise.  Study to learn and stay ahead.

Before a Class:

(1) Scan through class materials.
(2) Find out the basics: basic concepts & theories, basic methods & tricks.
(3) Try to do the examples before reading them.
(4) Find out the challenging parts in the materials.
(5) Compose your questions to challenge the instructor in the class.

In a Class:

(1) Listen, think and follow.
(2) Do not spend too much time taking notes.
(3) Ask questions on the challenging parts.
(4) Think in advance if you can.
(5) Try to answer others' questions.

After a Class:

(1) Review the class materials.
(2) Close your eyes and ask yourself "What did I learn from the class?".
(3) Do a lot of exercises.
(4) Close your eyes and ask yourself "What did I learn from the exercises?".
(5) Find out what you did wrong in the homework. Redo it.

Before a Test:

(1) Make sure that you remember all the basics.
(2) Make sure that you can solve all typical problems.
(3) Try to do everything with books and notes closed.
(4) Try to do everything with time constraints.
(5) Guess the test problems with your classmates.

After a Test:

(1) Ask yourself "What I did wrong?".
(2) Close your eyes and ask yourself "What did I learn from the test?".

After the Final:

(1) Ask yourself "What did I learn from the course?" and make a list of the answers.
(2) Ask yourself "What I can do now," make a list of the things you can do and do them.
(3) Repeat the above at the end of the first "X" after the final, where X = week, month or year.

Dr. Xiao,

I distinctly remember your study tips on how to succeed in a class and I've since referenced those (with attribution) may times for my own students throughout the years. I appreciate that you still provide that resource nearly 30 years later!


Todd A. Whittaker, Ph.D.

Department Chairman, Computing Sciences and Mathematics

Program Chair, MS in Cybersecurity, BS in Cybersecurity Franklin University