ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Ace a College Introductory Class

Updated on April 19, 2012
Take some time to familiarize yourself with your textbooks as soon as you get them.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with your textbooks as soon as you get them. | Source

Most “101” college introductory, beginner or survey classes share one goal: cover only the most salient concepts of the given field whether accounting classes, psychology classes, biology or literature. Some classes will require heavier reading; others will demand more problem-solving. But as introductory courses, they’re all bound to introduce a broad range of the discipline’s basics in a finite amount of time. As a student, this is to your advantage. You will not be required to learn in great depth, and the structure of what you need to know should be easy to find and absorb. There is no silver bullet to getting that 4.0, you will need to work. There are many resources on how to study and how to study for colleges classes, introductory or survey courses, however, are somewhat different. Follow these few simple steps, and that 4.0 should be easy to achieve.

  1. Learn the course syllabus like the back of your hand. Don’t simply browse through it once. Make an extra copy so you don’t lose track of assignments or expectations. If you care about your grade, you cannot afford any surprises you missed the first time through. Determine how the professor or instructor apportions the weighting of grades. Some will have virtually all of the weight on a midterm and final. Others will use papers and mix class participation into the sum. Do the math. Ask yourself questions like, can you get less than 95% on the two big tests and still get a 4.0?
  2. Find out about your professor. Take anything you’ve heard from classmates or online rating groups like with a grain of salt, but a few minutes on this may reveal a trend. Will an absence be harshly punished? More reliable sources are the college or university’s departmental information on him or her in the college catalog or online. Just knowing about your instructor’s publications or areas of expertise will help you spot what will likely be emphasized in class.
  3. Prime yourself for the class. For all classes you should perform a thorough perusal of the texts: read the introductions, prefaces and scan the table of contents. A quick reading of a Wikipedia article or two on the topic may pay back in diamonds should you say, drop a term in class (hint, hint).
  4. Terminology tends to be the staple of these classes. Look for terms or phrases in the glossary of your texts or in any handouts and devote most of your energy to knowing them. You can’t go wrong here. If your memory for new terms isn’t great, start early and focus on distinctions between similar concepts. Cramming to memorize a list of words you barely understand doesn’t work well, especially if your instructor gives you a multiple choice test where the potential answers share the same format, but a word or two is swapped out.
  5. Don’t botch the easy stuff. Students garner ill will from the professors when they try to “game” tests. Don’t badger the professor over whether this term or that term will be on a test. You needn’t play that game, but pay attention to the answers from others that do. Don’t squander points by careless reading of assignments. For instance, if you only answer half of a two-part question or turn in a paper that doesn’t meet the required format (e.g. MLA style).
  6. You don’t have to be a monk to make major gains in study habits. Students who sit in the front row(s) generally perform much better. If at all possible, show up early, get a good seat and spend those extra minutes reviewing your readings or assignments.
  7. Most of your requirements will come from a syllabus, if not, email your professor with a list of questions. Don’t ask during class, the professor will appreciate sparing class time. If you’re using an APA, MLA, or Chicago Style handbook, make sure you have one well before you start assembling a paper.
  8. If you find yourself overwhelmed by a difficult concept or a disappointing result on an assignment or test, ask the instructor about it and express your concern. Most teachers want you to succeed and enjoy seeing the light bulbs go on in their students. They are likely to offer useful advice.

Why All the Effort for Intro Classes?

You may already know that you don't want to be a psychologist or an English teacher. You may believe you’ll only have to really work at courses in your major, but a solid foundation from that introduction to psychology class and that English writing class will give you more opportunities later in your college career. You may even decide to pursue a second major or minor in a field you hadn’t considered. You’ll only get out of your education what you put into it, so why not make the most of every class.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good savvy! Been there done that.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)