What can I do when I get stuck on the homework and don't know where to start?

For students who are frequently unable to do a significant portion of the homework (1/3 or more), I recommend buying the solutions manual or using solution examples from the online tutorial.  These can be helpful, but it's important to use them as a tool, not a crutch, since you will have to solve problems on the test without help.  If you get totally stuck, here's one method you may want to try:

  1. Arm yourself with a stack of scratch paper.
  2. For the given problem, copy the solution out of the solutions manual or tutorial.  For even-numbered problems without solutions, try a similar odd-numbered one with a solution.
  3. Throw the solution away
  4. Now try to do the same problem without the solutions manual or tutorial.
  5. If you get stuck, peek at the solution and finish it.
  6. Throw the solution away.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you can solve the problem without help.
Be sure you don't stop until step 7.  If you can't solve the problem at home without help, you can be sure that you won't be able to solve that type of problem without help on a test.