General Information

I hope that our work together will enhance your study plans. In this small book, I've attempted to distill some general themes and specific facts which you may find of further use in your studies.

Tutoring hours
I generally tutor all day on Sundays at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Before midterms and finals, I'll be available for additional sessions weekday evenings between 7 and 10 pm up at the Medical Center.

Tutoring locales
Bard Hall, Room 723 This is the medical student dorm. To get there take the 1, 9, or A trains up to 168th street. After exiting the subway, walk west along 168th street alongside the hospital. Cross Fort Washington where 168th street turns into Haven Avenue and continue for one more block past the Psych. Institute until you reach Bard Hall (the nearest cross street is 169th). Enter at 60 Haven Avenue, show your CU ID and take the elevators to the 7th floor. Recovery Room Cafe Also in Bard Hall. See above.

P&S Student Lounge Also up at the medical center. After exiting the subway, walk half a block West and enter the hospital through the driveway. Show your CUID at the hospital reception desk and then take a right, continuing through two sets of double doors until you reach the student lounge on your right. Columbia Center Deli Follow the same directions as Bard Hall above but continue further along Haven Avenue until you reach 171st street. The Deli will be on your right. Table space and coffee are provided in ample proportions.

What if I can't make it?
Please call in advance if you can't make a scheduled appointment. I'll try my best to schedule a make-up, but appointments that are missed without sufficient notice are subject to the usual fee.

Contacting me
Telephone (212) 694-5690 I'd be happy to answer questions over the phone, but please don't call after midnight. I'll try to return messages by the end of the day. FAX
Study Handbook © Ogan Gurel

(212) 694-5690

Sometimes it's easier to send information such as your schedule, or a last-minute written problem by FAX. Kinko's Copies has a public FAX service at $2 a page.

Study Handbook

© Ogan Gurel


Thoughts on Learning

It was the Enlightenment philosopher Kant who outlined the distinction between analytic and synthetic knowledge. By organizing information, analytic thought can facilitate human understanding but not necessarily add to it. On the other hand, synthetic knowledge adds to our understanding by creating new structures and connections among information. Why and how synthetic knowledge is possible is one of the greatest mysteries and miracles of life.

When it comes to learning similar precepts also apply. There is both an analytic and synthetic approach to the assimilation of knowledge, with the latter overlapping the process of scholarly and artistic creation. Descartes′ Discourse on Method written in 1637 presents perhaps the best explication of "analytic" learning. To guide the mind, he laid down four rules which sound strikingly contemporary.

• The first rule was never to accept anything as true
unless I recognized it to be certainly and evidently such…

• The second was to divide each of the
difficulties…into as many parts as possible, and as might be required for an easier solution…

• The third was to think in an orderly fashion when

concerned with the search for truth, beginning with the things which were simplest and easiest to understand, and gradually and by degrees reaching toward more complex knowledge, even treating, as though ordered, materials which were not necessarily so…

• The last was both in the process of searching and
reviewing, always to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I would be certain that nothing was omitted…

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Descartes′ method was strikingly successful as it  in large part  spawned the scientific revolution. This sort of analytic thinking contributed, for example, to Newton′s discovery of the Universal Law of Gravitation. However, to actually arrive at that insight, Newton had to make a synthetic leap of the imagination which wasn't an explicit part of Descartes′ method.

In 1709 Giambattista Vico attacked analytic Cartesianism in his book On the Study Methods of Our Time. Feeling that synthetic and intuitive thought would be stunted by "analysis" he proposed his own educational program: "I think young men should be taught the totality of sciences and arts, and their intellectual powers should be developed to the full. At the very outset, their common sense should be strengthened so that they can grow in prudence and eloquence. Let their imagination and memory be fortified so that they may be effective in those arts in which fantasy and mnemonic faculty are predominant.


Analysis is one of mankind's most powerful tools. But, in one sense, it merely lays the groundwork for the imaginative thought that leads to true progress. Thus, by infusing creativity in all your studying, you′ll be adding a personal stamp to knowledge by which it will be more solidly and permanently learned. But perhaps most important, you will be on that exciting edge of human progress, as Newton was when he analyzed and synthesized the meaning of a falling apple.

Blaise Pascal said it best: "We recognize truth not only through reason but also through the heart."

How to prepare for and take exams
Students often note that while they can readily read through the text and work through all the problems they do poorly on exams.
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Adjectives include “choke,” “bomb,” “blew it,” etc. How does one prevent, or better yet aim for “acing” the exam? The following tips are taken from personal experience and represent practical applications of the above ideas. Questioning During lecture or while reading actively ask yourself questions about why or how things are. Through such questions, you might differentiate between those things which are fundamental (and must be understood) from those things which are by convention (and must be rationalized, or at the least memorized). Not all questions can be answered (even by the current state of knowledge) but even the process of asking will ensure greater understanding and retention of the material. Organization Organziation is key. Before reading a chapter skim the contents to get an idea of the overall structure of the subject. Again you ask questions: how does it relate to previous material? Try to compile a rouch outline of the various topics that constitute that chapter/subject. In a practical sense, organize your materials so that your problem sets, “old exams,” lecture notes and reading notes are easily accessible, preferably according to the knowledge structure itself. Strategy When studying or taking an exam tackle easy concepts or problems first. Build up a knowledge base and/or the confidence that will enable you to attack more difficult material. As you organize new material, break it down into simpler units...units that perhaps you may already know or be familiar with. Review & Consolidation After each chapter, or each lecture, review and write down the main ideas. After finishing a problem, review the essential concepts that were tested by that problem as well as the main methods that were used for its solution. Once you’ve determined the “inner meaning” of each problem, organize them according to their respective concepts and/or methods. Attitude Panic, hysteria, negative thoughts, and fear can only detract you from your goals. Be methodical, systematic, determined, positive and confident. These are the emotional attitudes most conducive to learning and success.

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Library hours vary according to summer, holiday, vacation and exam schedules so call ahead to be sure. A complete up-to-date library schedule is usually published in the Columbia University Record distributed around campus.

Avery Avery Hall. The architectural and fine arts library for the artiste type. The ambiance is quiet and conducive to study but climate control can sometimes be erratic. Very popular and as such can get quite crowded. Hours: Mon - Thurs 9 am - 11pm, Fri 9 am - 9 pm, Sat 10 am - 7 pm and Sun 12 noon - 10 pm. Tel: 854-3501 Biological Sciences 601 Fairchild. Small but modern with large well-lit carrels. Hours: Mon - Thurs 9 am - 10 pm, Fri 9 am - 5 pm, Sat 10 am - 5 pm, and Sun 2 pm - 10 pm. Tel: 854-4715. Butler Most students go to the main reading room but the Burgess-Carpenter (4th floor) and the Philosophy libraries (2nd floor) are nicer. The Philosophy library adjoins the street so it gets a fair amount of background noise. The tables in the stacks are dreary as hell. A 24-hour reading room is available on the main floor. Hours: Mon - Thurs 9 am - 11 pm, Fri 9 am - 9 pm, Sat 10 am - 6 pm and Sun 12 noon - 10 pm. Tel: 854-2235. Chemistry 454 Chandler. Old style science library with wooden creaky furniture. Hours: Mon - Thurs 9 am - 7 pm, Fri 9 am - 5 pm, Sat 12 noon - 5 pm and closed Sun. Tel: 854-4709. Law 300 Law. Comfortable seating but sometimes overheated. Hours: Mon - Fri 8:30 am - midnight, Sat 10 am - 6 pm and Sun 10 am - midnight. Tel: 854-3743. Mathematics 303 Mathematics. Relatively comfortable reading room with large tables. Hours: Mon - Thurs 9 am - 10 pm, Fri 9 am - 5 pm, Sat noon - 5 pm and Sun 2 pm - 6 pm. Tel: 854-4712. Physics 810 Pupin. Limited seating and overcrowded. Nice study tables in the back. Hours: Mon - Thurs 9 am - 9 pm, Fri 9 am 5 pm, Sat 12 noon - 5 pm and Sun 2 pm - 6 pm. Tel: 854-3943.

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Books and Supplies
Barnard Bookforum 2955 Broadway at 116th. The "bookforum" is a great place to browse though some of the books are placed 10 feet high. The shelves are well-stocked with an eclectic selection of literature, philosophy and social science books. The staff is very helpful and occasionally the store hosts literary events such as readings and signings. Credit cards accepted. Hours: Mon - Fri 9 am - 11 pm, Sat 11 am - 7:30 pm and Sun 11 am - 7 pm. Tel: 749-5535. Columbia University Bookstore 2926 Broadway at 115th. Conveniently located in Ferris Booth Hall. Sells required course texts (with a discount), a wide collection of other books, stationery, and Columbiana. Credit cards accepted. Hours: Mon Thurs 9 am - 7 pm, Fri 9 am - 5 pm and Sat/Sun 11 am - 5 pm. Special hours at the beginning of the academic term. Tel: 8544131. Papyrus Booksellers 2915 Broadway at 114th. A cozy bookstore with a surprisingly large stock of books -- mostly paperbacks. Stationery, computer supplies, diskettes etc. are also sold downstairs. Credit cards accepted. Hours: Open 7 days 'til 11 pm. Tel: 222-3350. Barne's & Noble "Downtown" 105 Fifth Avenue at 18th street. Supposedly the world's largest bookstore. The entire 2nd floor is devoted to medical and health professions books. Used books are also bought and sold here. Hours: Mon-Fri 9:30 am - 7:45 pm, Sat 9:30 am - 6:15 pm and Sun 11 am - 5:45 pm. Tel: 8070099. Book Scientific 18 East 16th Street. An outstanding collection of science books especially strong in mathematics, physics and chemistry. 5% discount with student ID. Hours: Mon - Sat 10 am - 6 pm, Sun 11 am - 5 pm. Tel: 206-1310. Kinko's Copies 2872 Broadway between 111th and 112th. Copies, binding, reductions, enlargements, passport photos, fax services, color copies and self-service copying. Hours: Open 24 hours 7 days a week. Tel: 316-3390. Janoff's Typewriter and Stationery 2870 Broadway between 111th and 112th. Fairly expensive stationery and art supplies. Hours: 9 am - 7 pm everyday except Sunday. Tel: 866-5747. Staples 1075 Sixth Avenue between 40th and 41st. Inexpensive paper, writing implements, notebooks, desk accessories, computer supplies, etc. Definitely worth the trip. Take the 1 train to 59th, and transfer to the B or D to 42nd. Hours: Mon - Fri 7 am
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- 7 pm, Sat 9 am - 6 pm and closed Sunday. 333-3330 for next day delivery.

Tel: 1-800-

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To learn is to shape your mind. Because of this it is crucial to study from outstanding texts and avoid anything that is confusing, convoluted or infantile. Problem books Problem books can often be a great waste of time and very misleading. Concentrate on the problems given by your professor. However, the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Outline Series is excellent and includes titles in all the basic sciences. Mathematics Thomas & Finney's Calculus & Analytic Geometry (Addison Wesley) is the classic text although Marsden & Weinstein′s Calculus (Springer-Verlag) is more modern in approach. For a quick review of calculus, try Quick Calculus: A self-teaching guide, 2nd edition by D. Kleppner & N. Ramsey (Wiley). More general math texts include Introductory mathematics through science applications, by J. Berry, A. Norcliffe, & S. Humble (Cambridge) and Mathematics for Life Scientists, 3rd edition by E. Batschelet (Springer-Verlag) For those who seek the meaning behind the equations, an outstanding three volume set covering both basic and advanced mathematics is Mathematics: its content, methods and meaning edited by A.D. Aleksandrov and published by MIT. Chemistry The best book is Mahan & Myers′ University Chemistry (Benjamin Cummings). Harry B. Gray′s Chemical Bonds: An Introduction to Atomic and Molecular Structure also by Benjamin Cummings, J.N. Butler′s Solubility and pH Calculations (Addison-Wesley) and E. Brian Smith′s Basic Chemical Thermodynamics (Oxford) are good special-topic texts. Organic Chemistry The new edition of Streitweiser′s Introduction to Organic Chemistry (Macmillan) is passable although others may prefer the sophistication of Kemp & Vellacio′s Organic Chemistry (Worth) or the simplicity of Morrison & Boyd′s Organic Chemistry.(Allyn & Bacon) Excellent specialized books include the more advanced Harris & Wamser Fundamentals of Organic Reaction Mechanisms (Wiley)and Natta & Farina Stereochemistry (Harper & Row). Physics The classic calculus-based text is Halliday & Resnick Physics by Wiley, although Sears,Yemansky & Young, University Physics is more explanatory and lighter on the math. The accompanying study guides are very helpful. For more advanced or detailed study of the fundamentals Richard Feynman’s 3volume Lectures on Physics is lucid, intuitive and sophisticated. Biology Excellent introductory surveys include: Renato Dulbecco′s The Design of Life (Yale) and Salvadore Luria's 36
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Lectures in Biology (MIT). More advanced books include the classics, Alberts, et al Molecular Biology of the Cell (Garland), Stryer′s Biochemistry (Freeman) and Watson′s Molecular Biology of the Gene (Benjamin Cummings).

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Speaking of deep, here are some of the thoughts of the greats. Their words speak as much to learning introductory material as it does to the frontiers of research.

Werner Heisenberg
In science it is impossible to open up new territory unless one is prepared to leave the safe anchorage of established doctrine and run the risk of a hazardous leap forward.

Niels Bohr
One must never be satisfied doing only what one can; rather, one must always do what one really cannot.

Isaac Newton
All this was in the two plague years of 1665 and 1666, for in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention, and minded mathematics and philosophy more than at any time since.

Albert Einstein
Whoever finds a thought which enables us to obtain a slightly deeper glimpse into the eternal secrets of nature, has been given great grace.

Study Handbook

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