Study Strategies

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Student to Student Study Tips

The following study tips are from Orientation Leaders (with just a bit of editing). Each UIC student uses a different set of study strategies, so try several approaches and see what works best for you.

*Reading Strategies *Lecture Notes
*Where to Study *Studying for Exams
*Time Management & Motivation *UIC Resources
*Writing Papers *Math Strategies
*Science Strategies *Stress Control

Reading Strategies

Marko: In high school I didn’t have to read. I could get by just studying my notes. In college you can’t do that. Many tests and quizzes are based on the readings.
Alana: Before reading a chapter, I go through and look at anything in bold letters (ie. headings and definitions) so I’ll know the general ideas of the chapter.
Erika: Sometimes I scan to prepare myself. I estimate the amount of time needed to cover all the material and that helps me avoid procrastinating. If my mind wanders, I’ll take notes while reading.
Marko: I don’t highlight everything because everything won’t be on the test. I highlight the most important points in the text. When I finish a chapter, I read the summary. Finally, I skim through the chapter one final time.
Kesha: Read the chapter summaries and look over the bold terms because evidently the author feels those things are the most important. Also, time yourself! Then go tell someone what you read about to make sure you understood it.
Sanobeia: Study whatever is boring early in the day because if you study at night after a hard day, forget it, you’re going to go to sleep!
Priyanka: Don’t get stuck on specific words or specific statements you can’t grasp. A good idea is to get a sense of the text as a whole. As you read, make connections with other parts of the book.
Kamilah: The more you read, the faster you’ll read. You need to find something you like to read and then read more often.


Taking Lecture Notes

M.: Do not miss a lecture, ever, no matter what. Read the chapter before the lecture and bring coffee. Professors don’t care if you bring a whole gallon if it helps you keep alert.
Prince: Reading the chapter once before the lecture helps you understand the material and stay interested in the lecture. Also, try to stick around in the lecture room after class and fill in what you missed or left out.
Erika: Always sit in front and just keep taking notes. Try to write throughout the entire lecture.
Sanobeia: It’s better to pay attention and write good notes in class, rather than taping lectures. Also, highlight headings in the notes because when you are studying for an exam, then you can immediately pick out important information you need to know.
Belia: I use the Cornell Method for taking notes. Before class, I draw a line on my notebook paper, making a 1 1/2-inch margin on the left. Then I take notes on the right side of the paper and add questions pertaining to the notes on the left side.
Evelyn: I underline main topics, definitions, and anything the professor repeats or emphasizes.
Kamilah: If you miss class, get notes from someone you know is a good note taker.


Where to Study

Erika: If I feel I’ll become distracted in my dorm room, I study elsewhere — away from the TV and without my phone.
M.: I study in the Honors College study room and lounge, the library, and empty classrooms. I like to vary the location. It’s important to be comfortable — not too hot or too cold. It’s also important to get away from nagging family, friends, TV, etc.
Michele: I like to study in the library at least once every day. Why? Because I’m surrounded by other UIC students, some of whom may be in the same course. In the library there are certain sections for quiet studying and other areas that are not so quiet. There are also private rooms available for studying in groups.
Sandra: I have my own office at home with a big desk and a big chair. There’s no TV in my office and I turn off my phone. When I’m studying I keep the blinds closed to keep distractions out. If my mind starts to wander, I just remind myself how much time I’m going to save by learning this now and not having to cram later.
Teayonia: I like to study in a not too noisy and not too quiet environment. If it’s too noisy I get distracted. If it’s too quiet I might get bored.
Kathy: I’m trying to get away from studying at home because there are too many distractions — my bed, the fridge, the radio, the TV. For commuters, it’s a good idea to study at a library close to home or with friends in a group.
Priyanka: I like to study in bookstores. When it’s time for a break, I can browse or go get some coffee. That’s a nice incentive.


Studying for Exams

Prince: The best way to prepare for an exam is group study, because two heads are better than one. Start studying at least three days before the exam. Also, don’t just memorize; that lasts only a few days and gives you limited knowledge. You really have to sit down and understand the concept, formula, or theory.
M.: Don’t just memorize; understand key facts. Try to remember things as stories to be retold, like the hottest gossip that you’re going to repeat. A lot of students study in groups, but I prefer to work on my own.
Manuel: I like to study in the same location with a friend. After about an hour of studying I check up on my friend or he checks up on me. We do this to make sure our minds don’t wander. We take a 10 or 15-minute break and then continue studying for another hour or so.
Terrell: Get to know your TA’s because they can give you good study techniques. My art history TA gave me a study technique in which I used an outline to record important information about each work of art. It helped me to study for the quizzes and final.
Priyanka: Talk to your professors regularly. Exploring verbally what you learned during lectures helps you retain things.
Kesha: I constantly quiz myself on the material and try to answer questions from the book.
Brian: After the first test you get an idea of what the instructor wants and so you change your study habits to what you think the instructor will ask on the following tests.


Time Management & Motivation

Kira: I use two planners. In one I list my homework assignments and in the other my appointments and work. I highlight each item as I finish it.
Belia: I write out the assignments from each syllabus in my UIC Daily Planner (available in the UIC Bookstore). I use a different color ink for each class. Each day I also write down my reading and other assignments to do.
Nancy: Writing assignments in my UIC Daily helps me plan which days I may need to take off from work.
Melissa: I use a 16-week calendar and plot out all exams, papers, and major projects. This allows me to see where my busiest weeks are and to plan accordingly.
Dawn: I write a “to do” list once or twice a week. I decide on priorities and try to do the items in order of importance.
M.: Check and reply to email just once a day. Turn off your phone; don’t get a TV.
Kathy: Resisting friends is important. You have to learn to say no. I hate to miss things. I want to be there having fun, but I remind myself I have to keep my priorities straight. School has to come first. There will be other times to see my friends.
Marko: I tell my friends to leave me alone during the week. Weekends are for friends, but during the week is for school. I turn off my phone and the TV.
Kamilah: I’m a commuter and staying at school after my classes are over helps me accomplish more.
Teayonia: To keep myself motivated, when I finish studying I reward myself with food and different activities. I also think about what happened to my friends who didn’t keep focused on their grades.
Tyesa: I tell my friends not to call at certain hours. If they don’t listen, I tell them that I am paying too much money not to get an A out of my classes.
Michele: With a lot of jobs on campus it’s possible to get some studying done at work. I limit my work to 10 hours a week.


UIC Resources

Miguel: I think the most important thing is not just going to class and reading the book, but whenever you have a question, it’s absolutely necessary to speak to the professor. The professor is the one who knows the topic and is the best one to answer the question.
Kathy: See your TA’s during their office hours and talk to your professors. The first semester here I sat in the back and was an unknown face. This semester I got to know my T.A.’s and professors and went to see them during their office hours. I feel more comfortable now and I think it’s helped me do better.
Prince: The only way to get to know a professor is to sit in the front row of class every day. Then go to her/his office hours. Also, get to know the T.A.’s. You spend more time talking with them, and they know you well enough to help you.
Dawn: Get help right away. Don’t wait until you’re doing badly in a class and have to catch up.
Teayonia: Get tutoring at LARES, ACE, AAAN, or the Honors College. Go to different TA’s, not just your own.
Priyanka: The Student Development Office has a program called Take a Professor to Lunch. You get a chance to talk with your professor and exchange ideas. Always get to know your professor. Verbalizing your ideas helps you remember more.


Writing Papers

Sandra: Don’t put off writing your papers. I learned this the hard way. Problems can arise at the last minute. For instance, your computer might break down.
Priyanka: I am the Queen of Procrastination, so I thought the best idea would be to take advantage of the services offered at the Writing Center, in Douglas Hall. As soon as I get a topic, I go to the Writing Center and start brainstorming with an adviser there. After that, I go back with a rough draft.
Prince: The Writing Center is like a workshop where you take your injured papers and get them fixed. The people at the Writing Center are very nice and friendly. It’s helpful to work with just one person; don’t take the same paper to three different people for a critique.
Kamilah: It’s a good idea to turn in a rough draft to your professor for comments.
Kira: When I get a writing assignment I print copies of the articles that pertain to the topic of my paper, I highlight important information, and write notes in the margins of the articles. Then I compile all the information and begin my outline.
Marko: After you’ve finished researching a paper, make an outline and confer with your professor. Next, write the rough draft, give the draft to your professor, correct the rough draft, and finally write the final copy.


Math Strategies

Marko: Do your homework whether you have to turn it in or not. At first I figured that if I didn’t have to turn in the homework I wouldn’t do it. I got a 46% on my first exam. For the second test, I did all the homework and did several chapter reviews and practice tests. I got a 94% on that exam.
Miguel: Always, always do the assigned problems and then also do other problems that weren’t assigned. I’ve noticed a pattern with my professors. On the tests, there always seem to be some of the problems that weren’t assigned.
Sanobeia: The T.A.’s and professors know what you need to know and they will work with you — not to mention give you helpful tips. You can’t shy away from them when you’re dealing with math. They’ll help you pull up your grade.
Sandra: You should expect math to be a time consuming class. Doing the homework is the biggest thing and the Math Learning Center in SEO is helpful. Also, I studied with classmates when the opportunity presented itself. This was nice because when we explained things to each other we found out how much we didn’t know.
Kathy: I not only went to my own discussion but I also went to other T.A.’s discussions in hopes that something would stick.
Kira: If you don’t understand something, go see a tutor. Honors College Tutoring is free!
Nancy: Always take at least two practice tests and talk to the professor and T.A.! The Math Learning Center is very helpful and so is the workshop which counts for one credit hour.


Science Strategies

Dawn: For chemistry, I read whatever is in bold face first and then I go back and read all the text, highlighting the most important information. To memorize chemical reactions, I use index cards. I can take them wherever I go and look at them whenever I have free time. I see a tutor twice a week.
Sandra: When reviewing a chapter, make sure you understand the diagrams, pictures, and charts. Diagrams are the most important thing.
Miguel: Do some looking around in the bookstore for good study guides and review books.
Sanobeia: When reading science books, make sure you read the examples because that’s how you understand. If you don’t read the examples you’ll be lost during class.


Stress Control

Priyanka: Working out or playing sports relieves stress. You should have incentives after your homework is done: go out, talk with a friend, read for pleasure, have fun.
Evelyn: I work out to relieve stress. Before a test I practice breathing techniques. If I’m still anxious during a test I chew some gum.
Alana: To control stress and remain positive, I call people in my family or my boyfriend. They’ll usually talk to me and make me feel comfortable about any situation.
Teayonia: I go to church, participate in positive activities, and surround myself with positive people.
Tyesa: I stay in constant contact with my adviser from AAAN. I also gain support from older students as well as my positive peers.
Terrell: I play a favorite game or joke around with my friends. A good laugh can help relieve stress.
Sandra: I study as much as possible until I have an adequate understanding. Then I don’t think about my studies while I’m doing other activities.