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5 ASTRONOMY SUCCESS TIPS

1. Use your brain. After you read a page, look away and recall the main ideas. Try recalling main ideas when you are walking to class or elsewhere. An ability to recall what you've read — to generate the ideas from inside yourself — is one of the key indicators of good learning.

2. Space your practice. Spread out your learning an any subject a little every day, just like an athelete. Your brain is like a muscle — it can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one subject at a time.

3. Put it in y6ur own words. Whenever you are struggling with a concept, think to yourself, How can I explain this so that a ten-year-old can understand it? Using an analogy really helps, like saying that the flow of electricity is like the flow of water. Don't just think your explanation, sat it out loud or put it in writing. The act of speaking or writing helps your brain put it into long-term memory.

4. Focus. Turn off your phone and set a timer for 25 minutes. Focus intently for those 25 minutes. After the timer goes off, give yourself a small, fun award. A few of these sessions in a day can really move your studies forward. Try to set up times and places where studying — not glancing at your computer or phone — is just something you naturally do.

5. Make a mental picture. Imagine where you've come from and contrast that with the dream of where your studies will take you. Post a picture or words in your workspace to remind you of your dream. Look at that when you find your motivation lagging. This work will pay off both for you and those you love!

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5 ASTRONOMY FAILURE TIPS: habits that lead to failure in your astronomy course.

1. Passive re-reading: sitting passively and running your eyes back over a page. Unless you can prove that the material is moving into your brain by recalling the main ideas without looking at the page, re-reading is a waste of time.

2. Waiting till the last minute to study. Would you cram at the last minute if you were practicing for a track meet? Your brain is like a muscle — it can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one subject at a time.

3. Neglecting to read the textbook before you start working problems. Would you dive into a pool before you knew how to swim? The textbook or reader is your swimming instructer — it guides you toward the answers. You will flounder and waste your time if you don't bother to read it. Before you begin to read, however, take a quick glance over the chapter or section to get a sense of what it's about.

4. Not getting help. Professors are used to lost students coming in for guidance — it's our job to help you. The students we worry about are the ones who don't come in. Don't be one of those students.

5. Thinking you can learn while distracted. Every tiny pull toward an instant message or conversation means you have less brain power to devote to learning. Every second of interrupted attention pulls out tiny neural roots before they can grow.

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