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Tips for Recycling Past Classes

It’s almost a guarantee, no matter what your major, that your classes will eventually begin to overlap and build on each other. That is why it is so important to take full advantage of the work you’ve already put into past classes.


An important aspect of this system is the direct reuse of past projects. For example I remember taking an English class in which I needed to write a persuasive essay, in writing this essay I spent hours and hours researching a specific topic (in my case Nuclear Energy) and ended up doing very well on the paper. As a naive first year college student I discarded the paper once I received it back from the teacher. The next semester I needed to make a persuasive speech on a topic of my choice, and it hit me: I had already researched a topic (Nuclear Energy) the past semester and that there was no need to do it all over again. Fortunately, even though I had thrown away the paper, I had not deleted the file from my computer and was able to find it. Reusing the information I had previously found saved me hours of research and increased my confidence in the project because the original grade ensured the quality of my research.



A chilling realization is taking a sequential class, such as calculus II, and discovering that you’ve forgotten most of calculus I. Fortunately, there is a very simple and effective way to avoid this problem and it consists of three steps:

  1. Make sure you keep all of the tests/classwork/homework throughout a semester.
  2. As you have each test in class, keep the relevant classwork/homework with that test and file it away.
  3. At the end of the semester take each test and it’s appropriate classwork/homework and put it in a manila folder labeled for that class.

If you follow these three easy steps it saves an incredible amount of time backtracking in future classes, and makes reviewing entire classes worth of work organized and simple.


In the above step 2. I make it a point to keep the relevant work only. This is where the reducing part of this system comes into play. If you end up with a huge unordered pile of paper and just file it all away, you’ll likely waste a substantial amount of time sorting through to find what you want in the future. Reducing the clutter to only what is absolutely necessary for understanding is crucial in streamlining the entire process so that you can spend the most time concentrating on the class you’re actually taking.

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3 Responses to “Tips for Recycling Past Classes”

  1. Gideon says:

    Very important, too, to make a distinction between using the noes and using the paper. At most universities reusing a paper you already turned in another class counts as academic misconduct.

    The notes, of course, not so much.

  2. miss_mary says:

    I think that this post brings up a very good point about recycling past coursework.

    It is very important, as you pointed out, to think of saving your past coursework for your mathematics classes.

    Also, it is awfully important to save your past coursework for your foreign language classes as well.

    Mathematics and Languages are always comprehensive and one can quite easily forget a thing or two in between semesters.

    I have two fairly large binders for my Languages (which I am not taking this semester) as well as for all of my Mathematics. As someone who is taking ‘Beginners Level’ Physics this semester, my Mathematics binder has come in handy quite a bit.

    It was very easy to organise my Mathematics binder, because all I had to do was file the notes as well as the old tests and homework according to topic with index tab dividers.

    And, were it not for your site as well as a GTD, I would not have even thought of doing this at all!

    Lastly, it is a really good idea to save your past research, and it was really great of you to point that out.

  3. paulette says:

    Thank you for the idea. Why i havent thought of that. I find this time saving.