It’s in the Text

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Midterms are here (if they haven’t come and gone already).

That means it’s time to yank out your sheaf of notes and get started on the long grueling preparation process. That means it’s time to start studying.

Every year, no matter how much time students spend preparing, the most frequent comment I hear is that a particular topic or question was not discussed in class. Not once did the professor talk about it. Not once did any of the homework assignments refer to it.

There is a reason.

And it’s probably not that your professor is a cruel, heartless person who wants everyone to fail.

No, in reality, your professor is probably a rational person who holds high expectations for each and every one of his students. He most likely expectes you to follow the instruction he clearly outlined in the syllabus. He assumes that you did the assigned readings. In other words, he believes that you’ve read the textbook.
Yea sure, it’s possible that some professors throw in a question from the text intentionally, to see if you’re actually doing the reading, but most professors aren’t trying to trip you up. They throw in a question only discussed in the textbook because the reading covers it so thoroughly they didn’t feel it was necessary to rehash the topic in class. They didn’t want to bore you or waste your time. Instead, they just threw a few questions in the midterm.

So, do yourself a favor, before you head off to take each of your midterm exams, crack open your textbooks and actually do the assigned reading. You may be surprised at how much knowledge you acquire from the text and how much more prepared you are for the stubborn, difficult questions on your exams. Reading the text might even help you better understand topics that your professor did discuss.

You won’t know until you do it.

Besides, at least if you’ve done the reading, you can say with assurance that question number 4 came out of the blue. At least then you know you’ve done everything you can to get a good grade.