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20 March 2006

When reviewing your notes before an exam,
the most important will be illegible.
—First Law of Applied Terror

The more studying you did for the exam,
the less sure you are as to which answer they want.
—Second Law of Applied Terror

Eighty percent of the final exam will be based on
the one lecture you missed and the one book you didn’t read.
—Third Law of Applied Terror

Every instructor assumes that you have nothing else
to do except study for that instructor’s course.
—Fourth Law of Applied Terror

The night before the English history midterm,
your biology instructor will assign 200 pages on planaria.
—Corollary to the Fourth Law of Applied Terror

If you are given an open-book exam, you will forget your book.
—Fifth Law of Applied Terror

If you are given a take-home exam, you will forget where you live.
—Corollary to the Fifth Law of Applied Terror

The Star Wars Guide to Studying

The night before a quiz I was busy multitasking, and by multitasking I mean studying and watching “Star Wars” on DVD. Now you have to admit, that is pretty impressive. How many people do you know can actually watch TV while studying for a quiz or a test and ace it the next day? Well, unfortunately for me, I am not one of them. And although I successfully managed to watch TV and “study” at the same time, when it came to sitting in the classroom and taking the quiz, the only thing that resonated in my head was Darth Vader’s labored and raspy revelation, “Luke (heavy breathing) I (breathe) am (breathe) your father (followed by orchestrated shock and awe),” which brings a whole new meaning to the question “Who’s your daddy?”

In the broken English of our favorite little green alien, Yoda, “Try not, do or do not, there is no try.” The first step in a successful study session is to actually start. As easy as the advice may seem, we can all admit to putting off studying for a test ’til the night before. Instead we find other things to occupy our time, like watching TV, or watching TV.

Admit it. The things we often occupy ourselves with aren’t too productive. And although you may have gotten away with studying at the last minute, or not even studying, for your tests in high school, the odds of being successful with that mentality in college are slim to none. Believe me. When I received my grade for the first test that I took, which I admit I didn’t adequately study for, all the delusions I had of my infinite wisdom were shattered.

It was like the moment Luke Skywalker found out that Darth Vader was his father. My world was turned upside down. Like those climactic (and by climactic, I mean over-acted and overdrawn) moments in soap operas where the actors and actresses “speak” with their eyes, staring at each other with raised eyebrows of disbelief after finding out (surprise, surprise) that the father to her baby is really dating her mother, who killed her brother, who’s really her father, who’s really her sister in drag. It was that kind of moment when I realized that I wasn’t too smart to study. And let’s face it, you probably aren’t either.

Now beginning is only part of the journey. The rest is about staying on the “good side” of the force and not be tempted over to the “dark side” by distractions such as your TV, your friend or your computer. Sometimes I find myself spending more time aimlessly searching the Internet or searching for friends on Facebook.com or Myspace.com than actually studying.

Thus, in order to steel yourself from these temptations find a place to study where you can’t be distracted. Personally, I have three places I like to study at UT. One of my favorite spots is the AIM Reading Room in the McCombs School of Business. It’s quiet and is very computer friendly with plenty of available ports to plug in either your Ethernet cable (if you don’t have wireless) or your power cord. What I like about the AIM Reading Room is that it is exclusive to business students, so there are fewer people to make noise. Unfortunately, if you’re studying in a group, all the students have to be in the Business School in order to enter the room.

Another place I enjoy studying is the FAC (Flawn Academic Center), also known as the UGL (Undergraduate Library), which by the way is non-exclusive to business students. I have good memories in this building. This was the first building that I pulled an all-nighter in. Not only are there comfortable (and by comfortable, I mean a little better than the floor) couches, but there are also plenty of places for you to study, plenty of desks, group rooms and computers. Also, it’s open 24 hours during finals week, and when you’re desperately studying ’til the last minute like I did, it comes in very handy.

Finally, another area I often study in is the Perry-Castañeda Library, often referred to as the PCL. Oddly enough, I don’t think I’ve ever checked anything out of the library, although there are five floors of books and periodicals. The library has many study tables and lounges to occupy you. The only downside about studying in the library is that, since it is open to all students and is a popular place to study, it can sometimes be crowded, and you may end up stuck sitting beside an obnoxious group of people who’d rather loudly converse about their love life than actually study.

Whether you’re fighting an intergalactic war or fighting your own war with calculus, just keep in mind that your life is a lot easier when you actually start doing something about it. And although Confucius may not have been in Star Wars, his words rang true when he wrote, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” So, you know that test that’s coming up, don’t wait ’til the night before. It’s never too early to start studying. So in closing, remember, “May the Force be with you.”

If you have any comments or concerns or you just want to say hi, e-mail me at emmanuel.winston@gmail.com.

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