Sarah Schott

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Mathematics

Words of Wisdom

Math at Duke is subject to a lot of unfair criticism.  But it is challenging.  We expect a lot of our students, but we also offer a lot of support in order to help them succeed.  I am privileged to teach so many wonderful students each year, so I decided to ask them for advice.  Straight from the mouths of students: how I succeeded in Duke math:

  • “Don’t be discouraged if your midterm grades are lower than you expected. Mark the homework questions and lab problems which challenged you and go back over them to study. Look back over your notes after class and if anything seems unclear ask Sarah instead of just leaving it ambiguous.” – Anna Jenkins (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Working with other students really helped me not only succeed in the class, but also made coming to class more comfortable and enjoyable. ” – Tiffany (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Correcting the homework and understanding what I did wrong really helped me understand the subject well and prepared me for the exams.” –  Anonymous (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Do the homework problems that you’ve done before again before tests because chances are you don’t remember exactly how to solve them and you’ll have a worked out solution ready if you get stuck.” –  Anonymous (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “I think that keeping up with the homework assignments is very important in order to succeed in this class. Going to office hours with Sarah was also very rewarding and helpful, as she went over tough topics and questions. Looking back, I would have tried to go to the help room more often for homework questions.” –  Anonymous (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Be sure to spend appropriate time reviewing homework problems. While reviewing class notes is also essential, re-working through problems you missed when you tried them the first time is a great way to practice problem solving for the material you are studying. If you have time, I recommend trying all of the problems when they are assigned for homework, going to the math help room and Sarah’s office hours to clarify problems you missed, reviewing these difficult problems before the homework quiz, and finally reviewing them one more time before the exam. This will enable a full understanding of the difficult types of problems that may come up in the actual test.” –  Anonymous (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Do the homework in line with the syllabus and clear up problems as soon as you can instead of waiting till right before the exams.” – Nipun (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Do the homework and go to the help room!” –  Anonymous (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Stay on top of the homework every night, if you miss a few in a row they can run you over.” – Anonymous (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Staying on top of the homework helped a lot, as did office hours. I wish I had gotten a tutor from the beginning. ” –  Maxx Goldstein (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “I personally stayed on top of my homework assignments and studied well before the midterms. I think more outside practice would have helped me, but I did not seek the full time to go and find additional resources, nor did I use office hours to the best of my ability. Definitely go, I know everyone says to go and it seems like a waste of time but just go! You can only benefit.” – Lucas Saporito (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Use office hours to your advantage to stay on top of your work because they were helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and figure out with you don’t understand.” – Cathy (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “I wish I had dedicated myself to the homework. Since they weren’t graded, I would wait to the last minute and be worried about the homework quiz. Start early because it really make a difference!” – Anonymous (Math 122L, Fall 2015)


  • “Never underestimate the power of office hours. And start studying earlier than you think you need to. ” –  Claire Wiebe (Math 122L, Fall 2015)
  • “Take diligent notes, and don’t be afraid to ask questions—Sarah is extremely knowledgable about the topic and although the class moves really quickly, she is willing to go back an explain anything to you. Use that to your advantage.” – Ben Feder (Math 122L, Fall 2015)