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Making the Grade

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
From left to right, business seniors Kristen Werch, Brad Zaumseil, Chris Nielsen, Tisha Gray and Brandon Williams work together on a group project in the Integrated Learning Center yesterday evening. For some, working in groups is helpful, but others would rather study alone.
By Kristina Dunham
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 22, 2003

Students share their dos and don'ts of studying, what works for them and what to avoid

Tick tock. Tick tock. It's the night before your physics midterm and as you flip through the pages of your book, you realize you haven't done nearly as much reading as you should have.

Sure you could have studied instead of going out every night last weekend. Sure you could have started reading last Wednesday night instead of watching the new episode of "Ed."

But you didn't, and now you're stuck.

With midterms underway, some students are learning the importance of not waiting until the last minute. And for those who are ready to give up the Must-See TV to shoot for a better grade, try following the advice of your peers.

One easy way to prepare for an exam, several students said, is to simply start early.

You can read every night and take notes as you read, as chemistry sophomore Vanessa Richards does.

Two Frappuccinos right before the test will hopefully make those electrons move faster or something.
Chris Nielsen,
finance senior

Richards said that when she knows an exam date is approaching, she starts preparing days in advance.

"I go over the materials the week before," she said, adding that she also starts making flashcards that she reviews both forwards and backwards until she knows everything on them.

Nick Canning, a journalism sophomore, said he also regularly uses notecards and reads over his materials.

To keep the material fresh in his mind, he said he reads over the material multiple times initially and then again before an exam.

Then he uses his notecards and the book to finish preparing.

Canning also has a study habit that he said has occasionally sent a few odd glances his way: He reads out loud to himself as he studies.

"I always read outloud to myself," he said. "(It) helps me memorize."

Sometimes it boils down to just finding what methods work for you, and learning in the process.

Even those who seem to have their study habits down have had bad experiences in the past.

Richards said that for her first tests freshman year, she tried to skim through her books and highlight just the parts in bold.

"It didn't work out though," she said.

Brandon Williams, a business management senior, said he's also tried reading just the bold words, but he hasn't found it to be a bad thing.

"I read all the bold words right before the class, before the test," he said.

If you find that skimming materials leaves you without a firm grasp on the concepts you are responsible for, however, you could also look into tutoring services.

Both Richards and Canning said they utilize tutoring off and on campus, respectively, and said it helps.

University Tutoring Services offers drop-in tutoring in several subjects for $25. Many departments also offer free tutoring. For more information, go to

If you prefer studying on your own, but your dorm room is too cramped or your neighbors are too loud, the library is also an option.

Roxana Osuna, a psychology senior, said she goes to the library to read about two times a week.

The library has dozens of study corrals that are free from the distractions of TV and roommates.

The library can also accommodate groups, like MIS 373 partners Tisha Gray, Chris Nielsen, Kristen Werch, Brandon Williams and Brad Zaumseil.

As business students, the five group members often have to work in groups.

While Williams said the group setting sometimes helps him learn more, other members said it's harder to coordinate meeting times and accommodate everyone's different study habits.

Most of the group members agreed it's best not to wait until the last minute.

If Gray waits until the night before a test to study, she knows she's in trouble.

"If I don't know it by 10 o'clock the night before, I give up," Gray said. "If I don't know it by then, I blew it."

Tick tock. Tick tock. It's 10 p.m. and you realize you have to make a decision. But before you act in desperation, realize that giving up and going to bed or pulling an all-nighter at Coffee Exchange are not your only options.

You could wake up early as Zaumseil and Nielsen each have done.

Zaumseil, an economics senior, said he has woken up at 5 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. to study for an 8 a.m. class. Nielsen, a finance senior, said he's gotten up as early as 4 a.m.

Still, if you don't like rising before the sun does, there's one more option.

"Two frappuccinos right before the test will hopefully make those electrons move faster or something," Nielsen said.

But the best plan, students said, is to not wait until the last minute.

"I don't think you should cram. I think you should plan ahead. I think that's the best thing you can do," Richards said.

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