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I'm accepted at a PhD math program for the fall and I will be expected to take 3 very rigorous pure math classes a semester and TA about 10 hours a week. I am a slow learner and it takes me a long time to truly understand difficult concepts (at least it seems longer than what it takes my peers).

I would appreciate any tips in the following:

  1. What are some tips for managing my time in grad-school?
  2. Is there anything I can do now before I start to help prepare me (other than learn more math of course)?
  3. How to grade or teach time efficiently?
  4. Is it better to focus on learning material for one class per day, or allocate a little bit of time each day for each class?

closed as too broad by Enthusiastic Engineer, vonbrand, scaaahu, Wrzlprmft, Mad Jack Mar 20 '16 at 14:10

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  • Shortly after each class (same day, if possible) go over the material, write down any unclear points/unresolved doubts to ask next time. Don't study for an exam the day before, close the subject two days before. Go to bed early, be rested for exams. You can study the day before the exam, but only other subjects. Leave a day a week for relaxing. Go hiking, do something else that day. If you get stuck, do something else for a while. Working more than two hours straight (or so) on something is counterproductive, have something else to do. It tired, go for a walk, work out for a while. – vonbrand Mar 19 '16 at 21:24
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I'm a first year student in math Ph.D. program. I'm taking 3 courses (all qualifying exams preparation course) and do TA work about 10 hours a week.

What are some tips for managing my time in grad-school?

a. Start doing homework the day you receive it, not the day before it is due.

b. When you're not sure what to do, study/do math.

Is it better to focus on learning material for one class per day, or allocate a little bit of time each day for each class?

I go for the first approach because I feel it's easier to focus on one of them than to switch back and forth among subjects within a day.

How to grade or teach time efficiently?

a. Before you finish your own exam requirements, choose an easy course to TA (like single variable calculus).

b. Remember unlike you most undergraduate students in lower division courses are not interested in math. They care little except exam/hw scores. Most students who can easily get an A+/A/D/F do not care about you. In discussion section do examples highly related to their HW, Sample Exam, Past Exam and little to nothing else.

c. Set up a good grading rubric that allows you to grade fast. Give full credit to correct answer with some reasonable justifications (even if it's not perfectly written). When it's boarder line give 1 additional point instead of explaining why the answer doesn't deserve an additional point.

  • Thanks that is very helpful! Especially since it sounds like you have some say in what course you wish to TA for. Your points that the early calculus students don't necessarily care about going deeper is also helpful. Is there anything you can think of that you wish you had done the summer before? – M47145 Mar 19 '16 at 19:59
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    The department I'm in now had an assessment exam for incoming graduate students so my goal in that summer was very clear. – user22080 Mar 19 '16 at 20:12
  • Other than math I think any attempt to understand the department/campus is good. – user22080 Mar 19 '16 at 20:14
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    Post advancement students in the department might give you some insight on how to success in early stage. – user22080 Mar 19 '16 at 20:15
  • These are all great tips, thanks for your time! – M47145 Mar 19 '16 at 20:19

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