STUDY TIPS FOR ECONOMICS COURSES
(a condensed summary)
TAKING NOTES IN CLASS
• Before class: At least pre-skim related readings and review lecture notes from previous class; look at problems in the study guide; make note of new terms, concepts, measures, models, graphs, and theories; formulate questions.
• During class: Have questions in mind as the lecture begins; adapt aformat which allows a wide left-hand margin for summarizing and editing your notes plus a narrow right-hand margin for recording your own insights, questions, etc.; be alert to assumptions underlying hypotheses and note how hypotheses are tested against observational data.
• After class: Review and edit your notes; use the left-hand margin to summarize material and list key terms; "test"yourself as soon as possible to recall lecture highlights.
READING THE TEXT
Preview the material: Look at sub-headings, graphs, questions at the end of chapter; note new terms.
• Read actively: Formulate questions before you read (from lecture notes and preview) and then read to answer those questions; translate abstract concepts to specific instances; know what every term and symbol means.• Analyze graphs thoroughly: What "economic story" is being told?; what are the assumptions?; note units of measurement on each axis; note direction (positive or negative) of the relationship.
• Recall: Test yourself immediately and cumulatively at the end of each section; then use a combination of marginal notations and underlining to summarize.
• Reflect: Set aside time to question andcriticize what you've read — then make notes of those thoughts.
PREPARING FOR EXAMS
• Integrate and review lecture and text notes; make a list of key topics, concepts, problems, theories, models, and terms.
• Review via ACTIVE RECALL rather than just passive re-reading.
• Re-work homework questions and workbook problems.
• Practice using the information in the form that will berequired by the test format; predict test questions and problems and practice answering them.
• Realize that various test questions will ask you to know, comprehend, apply, and analyze what you've studied.
• Glance over the whole exam quickly, assessing questions as to their level of difficulty and point value; set time goals for each section accordingly.
• Begin towork the questions which are easiest for you; the others will be easier when you've "warmed up."
• Maximize partial credit possibilities by attempting all questions.
• Save time at end of exam for re-reading and editing.
• Analyze returned tests to prepare for future ones.
WORKING WITH GRAPHS IN ECONOMICS
(prepared by Vincent Geraci, Associate Professor of Economics,
forthe UT Learning Center 10/82)
At one of our well-known colleges, students have their own names for all the courses. They call the astronomy course "stars," the geology course "rocks," and the biology course "frogs." Their name for the economics course is "graphs and laughs." (story by E. G. Dolan)
Well, I don't know about the laughs, but I'm sure about the graphs. A good picture is worth many (ifnot a thousand) words, so economists use graphs to illustrate the theories they develop about people's economic behavior. As an aid to studying economics, we need to master the basics of working with graphs.
We first bearded the "line's den" in high school when we encountered those two cats, "y" and "x." We wrote the linear equation:
y = b + mx
where y is the dependent variable, x is theindependent variable, b is the vertical intercept, and m is the slope (sometimes described as "rise over run"). Illustrative graphs follow:
The master of modern video games realizes that we are working in the Cartesian coordinate system with the northeast quadrant reserved for positive thinking (i. e., both axes are positive.)
* Economists like to scramble matters a bit (and maybe...