Monday, December 22, 2014

Five Things You Should Do Between A&P 1 and A&P 2

Ah, there's a break between semesters!  You've survived A&P 1 and have temporarily put it—along with everything else related to school—out of your mind.  You even wonder to yourself, "why am I reading THIS?  School is out!"

The answer to that question is, "because somewhere deep inside, I realize that A&P 2 is looming in the near future for me."

Here are five tips for being ready for A&P 2:

  1. Relax and refresh.  It's a break, after all!  Academic calendars purposely have breaks in them to allow you to "take a breather" and get your head out of  your books for a while.  Sort of like dreaming, it gives your brain time to assimilate what you've learned and get ready for the next round.  If you don't take some time for yourself to relax and refresh yourself, A&P 2 won't be so easy for you.

  2. Attend to "real" life.  A&P 1 was more rigorous and time-consuming than you thought it was going to be.  You found yourself putting friends and family "on hold" while you focused on keeping your head above water.  Now's a good time to reconnect.  And explain why you've had to be so focused.  It might also be a good time to make sure they're all on board for another semester or two of not seeing you so much—making them true partners in this "training phase" of your life.

  3. Review what you've accomplished. Take a small amount of time to review what you learned in A&P 1—which was an awful lot!  As I mentioned in #1, this is the time your brain is consolidating all those concepts into something useful.  Something you can take forward with you into later courses—and into your career.  So help your brain along a bit by taking a few minutes each day to skim over a chapter's worth of notes, the illustrations from the book, the chapter summary.  This simple trick can have a huge impact on how much gets into—and stays in—your long-term memory.

  4. Plan your strategy.  Besides the concepts you learned last term, you also learned—perhaps the hard way—that you can't succeed in A&P without a plan.  Now, when the pressure's off, is a great time to figure out how you are going to schedule your life next term.  Actually put it into your Google calendar (or on your whiteboard) now. Then, when your new course starts, you'll have it all mapped out.  This trick gets you in the right frame of mind to start a new semester in a low-stress way!

  5. Preview your next course.  You already have the textbook right?  You know what's coming in A&P 2.  Take just a few minutes each day to skim through the summary material of a chapter in the second half of your book.  I suggest that you start with the new words.  Read them out loud, so your brain is prepared for them next term (this is the best way to learn any new language).  Say the trickier ones—like carbaminohemoglobin—several times, to get the rhythm of the word in your head.  Then skim over a brief or detailed chapter outline.  Then, if you have time and haven't zoned out yet, look over the chapter illustrations.  This trick will give you the "lay of the land" of A&P 2—further reducing stress going forward.
Photo: Ryan Mahle


La_chilena said...

I just found this blog and I'm loving it! I have a question, I am in A&P 1 right now for the summer. I was initially planning to take A&P 2 next summer as I would only take that class and so far it helps so much so I can fully concentrate on it. But if I take it next semester, Fall 2016, I would also have to take 2 other classes. One being writing intensive English course and the other nutritional introduction course. Could I wait until next summer, do a review before taking it next summer, or should I take it in the Fall with the other classes? I ask as I do not know how A&P 2 is and if it's as intensive as A&P 1 and if I should take it while everything is still "fresh". Thank you! I'm very glad to have found your blog!

Kevin Patton said...

Thanks for your kind remarks--and for asking a great question. Unfortunately, it's a question without an obvious answer. But you've already started in the best path for figuring out which way to go. I suggest making a list of pros and cons and considering all the factors. It may not reveal an absolute best choice, but it will likely show which will probably work best for you.

Many students find A&P 2 slightly less frustrating than A&P 1 because you've already learned how to learn A&P concepts. A&P 2 is usually just a continuation of more topics, not an advanced version of A&P 1. Many students find that if they move into A&P right away, they can easily stay in the groove they established in the first course. But I've also seen students come to A&P 2 after a year or two "off" and still do just fine in A&P 2. The latter students often have a little more brushing up to do, however. Research shows that such a gap of "forgetting" then "reviewing" can actually improve long-term ability to retrieve concepts from your brain when you need them.

I realize that it seems like I'm going back and forth here, because there really is no "best" way to it for all students. So you'll have to consider YOUR pros and cons and make the best decision you can--then stick to making it work for you, whatever it takes.

One last consideration: is there a middle path? I mean is there an A&P 2 offered in Spring semester--so you won't have to wait as long as next summer, but you can still focus on those other two courses in the Fall?

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