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last updated: 7/12/2010

Chapter 4

What to do if you flunked your first test


Every semester you have to go through the same process of figuring out your professors—what they expect and how you can convince them that you’ve actually studied. Your first test reveals how accurate your assumptions were.


1)      Review the test; scope it out. See if you can tell what the instructor thinks was important. Compare the questions on the test with your notes from lectures or readings.


2)      Ask yourself: Did I study the wrong things? Did I study enough?


3)      If you feel you were prepared for the test, talk to your instructor. Don’t make excuses. Don’t ask for favors or suggest you take a make-up test. Ask your instructor for advice on how to improve.


4)      Study harder, and longer, the next time.



Get helpful tips for studying and writing from the Student Academic Center or Writing Tutorial Services




What to do if your paper’s due tomorrow and you don’t know how to start


You work best under pressure, right? Hope so.


1)    Accept your fate and don’t panic. Just getting in the right frame of mind will make it easier to plow through.


2)    Scan the assignment. Read your notes from class. (You did take notes, right? Please say you went to class.)


3)    Identify key words that describe your topic or what you want to say about it.


4)    Search for your key words in Academic Search Premier, an online collection of thousands of articles-- everything from People magazine to The Journal of the American Medical Association.


5)    Combine the right terms and 9 times out of 10 you’ll find something to get you started.


6)     Develop your ideas based on what you learned from your reading.


·         Use the search box on the IU Libraries' Web site. It will search the major portals of IU’s resources all at once.

·         Don’t forget about the “Ask a Librarian” link. If you get started at a decent hour, you can IM a librarian from your dorm room and save yourself a lot of unnecessary time and effort.


Never turn in someone else’s work or try to claim their ideas or writing as your own. To help detect plagiarism, instructors can use software that instantly identifies papers containing unoriginal material.




How to survive your first all-nighter


Trying to pull an all-nighter at home might not be too productive, given that’s where your bed and TV are. Try the Information Commons in the Wells Library, open 24/7.


1)      Stake out your spot by 10 p.m. or so. Sit upright at a table instead of lounging in the soft chairs or couches. 

2)     Plan in advance. Make sure you have all the study materials you need. You won’t want to lose your momentum by running home for something you forgot or trying to make do without it.


3)     Bring change or dollar bills. Vending machines in the Wells Library lobby have sweet and salty snacks and soda. Chewing gum can also help you stay awake.


4)     Set the alarm on your cell phone to go off every hour. (Don’t worry. The Information Commons is the only work space in the Wells Library where you are allowed to use your cell phone. Try it in the reference room, and you’ll wish you hadn’t.) Get up and walk around.

5)   Keep telling yourself that it’s only one night. You can and will get through it, and then you can relax. Until the next time.




In experiments to determine how long humans can stay awake, research subjects have remained awake for eight to 10 days. The apparent record was set by a 17-year-old high school student who stayed awake for 11 days for a science fair. According to the report, all the subjects showed progressive and significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception and other higher mental processes. Nevertheless, all recovered to relative normalcy with one or two nights of sleep. The study did not indicate if most college students remain awake to study or to party.


Research for this eye-opening bit of information was conducted in Academic Search Premier.



What to do if you find an article in Google and need to pay for it


Let’s get this straight: the IU Libraries pay for information so you don’t have to. Every year we spend millions of dollars on books, journals, and online subscriptions. You have better ways to spend your money, especially if it’s the weekend.


1)      Never pay.


2)      After you find the article in Google, print as much information as you can (which journal, its publication date, and page number).


3)      Ask a librarian to help you find the article. We probably already have it, or given enough time, we can get it for you. Or we can find another one like it. It’s probably in a database—an online collection of articles and citations.


4)      Start your search in Academic Search Premier, one of our top databases, rather than Google.


5)      Find Academic Search Premier and other databases in the Resource Gateway on the IU Libraries' Web site. Articles there are free because the IU Libraries buy online subscriptions for you and other members of the academic community.


6)      Repeat after me. “I will never pay.”


The “Library Resources” link in OnCourse will lead you to helpful resources relevant to your class. Selected for you by the librarian who knows the most about the subject area you’re studying, the library resources available through OnCourse are accessible anywhere you can get online—you don’t have to be in the library to do research.



How to survive your first presentation And your second And your third…


Seems like presentations are the new tests nowadays. To prepare you for “the real world,” professors in most academic disciplines are more frequently requiring you to beef up your public speaking skills. Better get used to it.


1)      Organize your thoughts. Create an outline using full sentences, but don’t write every word you’ll say.


2)      Practice.


3)      Record yourself. Watch the recording. Try to be objective, or better still, ask a friend to offer critical advice.


4)      Practice again.


5)      Before the presentation, take a deep breath. Shake your arms to relieve tension. Remember to smile.


6)      If something doesn’t go as planned, don’t freak out. The rest of your presentation will go much more smoothly if you just relax, laugh at yourself, and move on.



The 4th floor of the West Tower in the Wells Library has presentation practice rooms where you can practice your speech in private, record your speech, or review your recording. The rooms are available for two-hour increments on a first-come, first-served basis. Grab a key from the circulation desk in the Information Commons.


In 1977, a survey published in The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky,
Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace showed that the number one fear of Americans is public speaking.


How to avoid being late for class


A campus as big as IU Bloomington can be difficult to navigate even if you’ve been here a while. When you’re new, you sure don’t want to draw attention to yourself by arriving late to class. 


1)      Give yourself enough time to get there. Factor in variables such as weather, traffic, disorientation, and leepiness. The only constant is the distance from Point A to Point B. In the beginning, the hardest part is finding Point B. (See: How to find your way around campus without looking lost.)


2)      If you’re leaving from the Wells Library (a good spot to hang out between classes, grab a bite to eat, or check your e-mail), don’t believe any of the clocks in the building. Each one is different, and you can’t be sure any of them is accurate.


3)      The free-standing red clocks on campus are synchronized by global positioning technology, so they’re reliable. (Curious fact: The clocks not only strike the hour, they can also play any selection of 100 programmable songs.)


4)      If you do arrive late for class, take every precaution not to disrupt the class. Remove your coat before you go in the room. Have your notebook ready. Find a seat that’s easy to get to.



Discover your learning style.


Styles. You don’t dress like everyone else. You don’t cut your hair like everyone else. Your room doesn’t look like everyone else’s. So why should you be trying to learn like everyone else?


Within the past few decades, educators have realized that there are different types of learners in the world and different ways to go about learning. By discovering your learning style, you can improve your study habits, test-taking skills, and general information retention.


Explore these online resources to identify your learning style and stop trying or thinking that you should try to study like everyone else.


NC State University’s Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire



Learning Styles Online







last updated: 7/12/2010