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

I have been a musician since elementary school. I love music and have always tried to play better, learn more, and hone my skills to be a better performer. It wasn't long before I saw some of the same skills required to be a good musician leaking into my academic life. Even though music performance has many differences with academic assessments, much of the way to prepare for a musical performance is very similar to the way that I recommend preparing for a test.

My first recommendation is to break it down. I like to break my pieces down into smaller chunks; then, I take one passage (starting with the most difficult parts before moving on to the easier ones) and learn it well. The next time I practice, I review what I worked on last and then learn the next chunk. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed and ensures that I know the difficult parts as well as I know the easier ones. In preparing for a test, I suggest the same approach. Breaking the subject down into smaller pieces and slowly going over the most difficult parts first can make it easier to focus and reinforce even the hardest sections.

Another recommendation is to take practice tests and cognitively evaluate progress. When I have a performance coming up, I play through my piece with an accompanist the way we would do it for the performance. In a performance, you can't stop or explain your mistakes and you can't start over, so I need to practice playing in that manner. This is like taking practice tests. By taking practice tests, one can become familiar with the way material will be presented and will be prepared for tricky wordings or hidden important information.

Lastly, be consistent. A musician cannot learn and memorize all of the music they need to perform the day before a concert or recital. Cramming is also not effective for academic tests. Everyday practice is vital for musicians to perform well. Comparably, every day studying will augment retention and will better embed the material.

Eliza from Utah
College Freshman
Weber State university