Write an essay where you tell us what test preparation practices work best for you and why.

Growing up, I was seen as a hard-worker. I was the elementary student who did every extra credit assignment, recited multiplication tables for weeks. I was also the student who cried in the bathroom when I didn’t understand a concept in third grade, was filled with self-hate when I didn’t get a top score in a competition. In sophomore year, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety. I realized this was holding me back; I couldn’t stop thinking about the font of my notes and was so obsessed with the possibility of doing poorly, nerves filled me as I studied. The onset of depression decreased my focus, and I fell asleep in class. After struggling with next steps, I decided I needed to find what worked for me.
Over time, I discovered strategies allowing me to be calm, not anxious, while studying. The first was to start early. If I start early, I can counteract thoughts of ‘I’ll never be able to do this right’ with ‘Even if I do not get it tonight, I still have time to practice’. I can focus less on distracting details or doubts because I have plenty of time. Another strategy is the creation of study sets. This allows me to focus on small bits of material, instead of all of it at once. Quizlet also allows me to track my progress and feel less overwhelmed about learning more material.
Adopting a system for note-taking has been instrumental. I have experienced distraction because my writing does not look good, or my pen is the wrong color. Now, I use a notebook for each subject and aim to get down as much information as I can, which steers my goal from ‘I need to learn everything or I’m screwed’ to ‘I’m trying to learn as much as I can’. Once I have taken down efficient notes, it is easier to transfer notes to study sets.
Much of my process of finding study habits was rooted in mentality change. Transitioning from goals of ‘getting everything right’ to reinforcement that my goal was to learn, not be perfect, dramatically helped my studying.

Caroline from New Jersey
High School Senior
Glen Rock High School