Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 24th, 2022

From a Cambridge Mathematics Student after graduating in physics.

And everyone can do it?

These are all my personal advice and something I’ve learnt after struggling with “performance anxiety” and the feeling of never being smart enough for physics and mathematics. (Performance is a catch it all term for most graduate students who do Not distinguish among the variety of Performance in their field of study)

In no particular order.

Eleonora Svanberg

Jul 13, 2022

1. Unmotivated Now, Effective Later

This was maybe the most challenging understanding for me to learn. However, three years ago, I started experimenting with only studying when I wanted to, e.g. not when “everyone else was studying” or “because I need to study *** many hours a day”.

If I knew I needed to study, but felt very tired and unmotivated, I took that as a sign to allow me to rest and not think about school.

Sometimes I ended up watching Stranger Things the rest of the day, but sometimes I ended up studying later because I wanted to.

I did study more effectively now, as I was motivated. I was also in control of my studies; I did it because I wanted to. Nothing else.

2. Make A Summary Together With Friends

If you’re studying a very complex course with many different components, you might benefit a lot from trying to simplify everything. Particularly in physics courses.

Two weeks before the exam, my friend Niklas and I would always open a Google Doc (or Overleaf) document and summarize everything that needed to be learned.

This gives an excellent overview of the course I should focus on next week. If we have time, a sentence or two for each concept.

3. Prioritize Your Sleep

I cannot stress this behavior enough; it is not worth staying up late and doing your homework with a tired brain.

I will never preach “you need to wake up at 5 to be successful”. Wake up when you want, go to sleep when you want, but do rest.

A while ago, I was the one who waited until the last minute and did my assignments at night. I slowly started getting trouble sleeping and difficulty studying during the day.

Now, I never study past 7 pm. In fact, I instead hand in assignments late than not sleep.

4. Ask Yourself Why You’re Doing This, Often

Sometimes we need long-term motivation to keep going. Among exams, homework and assignments, we often forget why we keep up with everything.

I think it’s very healthy to zoom out once in a while to remind yourself why you chose to study this. What is your main goal?

For me, it has always been to be able to understand the universe and become a researcher in modern theoretical physics. Reminding me of this has helped me in times during exam season when I haven’t seen the bigger picture.

5. You Are Not Stupid For Not Understanding

Mathematics and physics, in particular, make it easy to accept that you’re “stupid” or “not smart enough” when we don’t understand.

An essential part of being a student is not to understand, to feel like we are struggling; otherwise, it would have been too easy to learn something.

Remember when you were 6 and you didn’t know you could multiply two numbers? Or when you first found out negative integers exist? It’s all part of learning, and you are never stupid for not understanding something you are in the process of learning.

6. Explore Different Studying Places

I’m not going to lie; studying isn’t always fun. Even if it’s something as fun as mathematics.

Some people like to study in the same place, but I want to vary location. Your whole studying session might be more fun if you’re in a new café.

When I needed to pack my bag and tried to find someplace that looked cool, I bought a coffee and then spent 5 hours there.

7. Continue Improving Your Studying Technique

A great studying technique is essential for university studies. However, such methods can be very individual, and change with time.

In high school, I always took a lot of notes. I had several notebooks covered with everything I’d learnt. However, in university, I realized I didn’t learn anything from them. I just wrote them because that’s how I had been studying.

I started only writing down things I wanted to look up after class and prioritised listening and participating in discussions.

I’ve also realised that watching Youtube videos are great, but I learn more if I don’t manage the same person teaching (so I get different perspectives).

My point is to continue exploring and trying out other studying techniques. You might learn something about yourself.

8. Don’t Underestimate FlashCards

I think I’ve used flashcards for all my classes. Not to “memorise” things, but to train my brain to work fast.

In my mathematics courses, I often had papers with different theorems to practise proving them. There are, of course, several apps that can do this, like Quizlet, but I prefer physical papers.

I often colourise them and do a “round” on the bus or when I feel bored.

9. Reward Yourself

As a short-term motivation, this motivates me the most. If there’s a new episode of your favourite show, a bag of candy you’ve wanted to taste for a while, challenge yourself to study until you deserve that reward.

For me, it’s often that I can watch a new episode after I’ve finished a set of problems. Either way, I often think we’re too hard on ourselves. Being a student is hard, and we deserve to treat ourselves.

10. Use a Weekly Planner

Especially during stressful weeks, a weekly planner can be a lifesaver. I always plan the three weeks before an exam to make sure I cover everything.

I always plan “too much” when I plan, if that makes sense. If I follow everything in my schedule, I have done more than enough. In that sense, it’s okay if I don’t follow everything strictly.

If you want my weekly planner in notion, you can get it here.




Blog Stats

  • 1,519,211 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 764 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: