I am UIC: Tips for studying and staying on track

(Photo: Callie Lipkin)

Anyone get frustrated when studying for exams? The whole memorization technique, although helpful, can be quite tedious and is not always the best option. I used to rely heavily on this style of learning; however, throughout my semesters at UIC, I’ve picked up on a variety of study habits that have made the process more interactive, effective and enjoyable.

Here are four studying and learning routes I have taken that have not only better prepared me for exams, but have also helped me stay on track in classes that I’ve found myself struggling in:


Make a friend in class

During the semester, it’s always best to connect with your classmates. Exchange emails, social media or phone numbers with someone in your class. Not only can you help each other with assignments throughout the semester, but you can also be study partners when exams are right around the corner. Studying with a classmate is something I’ve found to be very beneficial and I have actually seen my exam scores be positively affected by it. Last semester, for example, I had a study partner who I would always meet at Richard J. Daley Library before exams. We would go through all the class lectures slides, take notes and explain concepts to one another. I found that reviewing concepts in the form of a conversation with our own explanations and interpretations helped me not only remember the class content, but comprehend it as well.


Go to your professor’s or TA’s office hours

Going to your professor’s or TA’s office hours is something I highly recommend. Your professors and TAs have basically reserved time outside of class to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Going to your professor for further explanation or clarification on a topic you don’t fully understand can seriously improve your overall performance in class and better prepare you for those difficult essay questions that often appear in exams.


Consider tutoring

Tutoring is a great way to stay on track in classes you are struggling with. Tutoring provides you with a one-on-one instruction that is not possible in classes with a large number of students. When I took precalculus my freshman year, tutors were the main resource I clung on to whenever I found homework difficult. I found them to be very helpful because they would walk me through math problems and provide step-by-step explanations that I sometimes didn’t understand in class.


Don’t cram

I think many of us are guilty of studying the night before an exam, or at least I am. I’ve come to realize that this is not the best way to study, nor to actually learn. The times I have crammed for exams, I’ve found myself only retaining definitions and concepts the day of the exam, then finding it hard to recall that information a week later. The key is to understand what you are being taught in class, so that you can then apply that knowledge in future classes or even jobs, so although cramming can get you through an exam, it’s not beneficial in the long run.


Michelle Garcia De La Vega
Michelle García De La Vega is a senior double majoring in communications and Spanish. Among the things she loves doing most are drinking coffee and laughing. The moments she appreciates most in life involve family, friends, music, warm weather and experiential learning. Her goal is to travel someplace new every year and she aspires to one day be a conduit of news for her community.

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