I finished teaching summer school – an intense 3-week course that met every day and had a rapid pace. One of the students asked me to suggest a strategy to “ace” the course. I shared a strategy I learned as a college student, and one that I’ve recommended to students over the years.
The key to this simple strategy is to be proactive. Before each class, read all of the assigned (and suggested) course material. Then, use the course lecture and discussion to reinforce the knowledge that you already gained from the readings. You will find that the lectures take on a different tone. You are now not listening to new information, but to content with which you are familiar.
This repetition will do three things: First, it will rehearse material that you have read (which will facilitate retention) and the lecture will likely contain examples that will deepen your understanding of the material – creating more elaborate memories of the course material.
Second, you will be hearing the professor’s version of the class material, and this will give you some insight into what the professor thinks are the important points. This suggests what the professor might focus on in the exams. You likely can’t process the themes in the professor’s lecture if you haven’t read the material beforehand, because learning the new information takes most of your attention.