Notes to self


Students in the Commuter Student Resource Cente

Midterms are here – time to study!


♪♫♪ Calculate the entropy, running out of energy / A lack of love or empathy, leave me lonely…

 For every new class, I find there is typically a learning curve — not just to the course material, but rather to the professor, the grading and the study style to succeed. Of course strong study habits are transferable skills from class to class, but studying for organic chemistry or physics is not the same as studying for biology or psychology. And vying for an A in an English or philosophy class is a whole different game altogether.

By this time, we’ve all probably finished our first round of midterms (I can hardly believe we’re already at the back half of the semester). For me, getting the first round of grades back is always the best litmus test to see how my study tactics for each class are working. And finally, after checking Blackboard a little too frequently for the past three weeks, all of the numbers are in…and I’m pretty happy with myself! As and high Bs (that *fingers crossed* will round to As with the promise of a curve).

Of course, the next round of midterms are just right around the corner (mine start next week actually), so I compiled my personal notes to myself regarding each class:

  • BIOS 484 (Neuroscience I): REVIEW EACH LECTURE BEFORE THE NEXT! This idea has been repeated ad nauseam from ever study tip source in existence, but I really should have kept this in mind for the first month so I wasn’t fervently cramming the week of the midterm. Also, lecture recordings are valuable here. The professors (yes, there are two, and there will be a third coming) differ in lecturing style, and things are often brushed over very quickly in class. Record the lecture, listen to the lecture that day or the very next day, and type up notes to review later. Leaving eight or nine lectures to listen to the week of the exam will not be a fun time. Also, actually go see the TA. She seems to know her stuff.
  • PSCH 360 (Learning and Conditioning): This is honestly not the most challenging class, that’s probably because almost everything on the first exam consisted of simple topics I’d seen before (Pavlovian conditioning, taste aversions, etc). Things are getting a bit trickier now. I definitely need to read the textbook to supplement the lecture as a good number of exam questions came from the book and were not covered in class. Could I cram the week of the exam and pull off a decent grade? Yes…but I’m not going to do that. At least I hope not. Review periodically, especially since the professor canceled class all of week 9 and I know I’ll be tempted to not touch my materials…
  • PHIL 204 (Philosophy of Science): My first philosophy course (since high school)…it’s been a bit of an adjustment so far because I’ve had to learn the style of writing a philosophy paper. Readings are also long and definitely not something to be done quickly. I need to start readings earlier, work on creating a list of philosophers and their central points, and most importantly, not start the paper a day before it’s due. It may have turned out okay the first time, but this is no time for making procrastination a habit. TURN IN A ROUGH DRAFT!
  • PSCH 363 (Behavioral Neuroscience Lab): This class is awesome. Dr. Roitman is awesome. Brains are awesome. I learned a ton of new information from the sheep brain lab practical from dissecting more sheep brains than I remember for the first month of school — it’s definitely been the best neuroscience class I’ve taken so far. Now we’re doing weekly experiments that each have their own interesting purpose, such as lightly shocking ourselves with electrodes to generate action potentials or measuring firing rates of cockroach legs. This week, we’ll start working with rodents! The rest of the grades are writing heavy, so I just need to make sure I’m not leaving writing or reading to the last hour, and I’ll keep gaining all that I am from this class.

These are a lot of words directed toward myself, but perhaps some tidbit here or there may be helpful to anyone else trying to prep for their next round of midterms. The recurring theme is not procrastinating, which is accomplished by summoning diligence on regularity.

(Easier said than done when all I want to do is watch The Walking Dead season premiere when I have to finish a philosophy draft…)

Good luck on the rest of the semester! We’re halfway through!

Calculate the entropy, let it pop in front of me / Or needed friend or enemy, leave me lonely… ♪♫♪

(Entropy – Grimes and Bleachers)


Sarah Lee (F)Sarah Lee is a senior studying neuroscience and Russian in the GPPA Medicine program at UIC. She’s still trying to figure out exactly what she wants to do, but some of  life goals include running a marathon, exploring Eastern Europe and becoming fluent in Russian. In her free time, she loves running, playing piano and guitar, and reading. A Naperville native, Sarah is a peer mentor in the Courtyard residence hall.

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