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

Twitter gave me my best study tool. While scrolling through Twitter, I stumbled upon this tip: “Whenever you have a test, act like you’ve been given a cheat sheet. Make one and once you’re done, you’ve successfully studied for your test”. I took this tip to heart. Now, I make effective cheat sheets on blank paper by doing three things: reviewing key terms, examining my old notes, and forming connections between topics.

I begin with my “KEY TERMS”. I used to use flashcards to remember key terms, but let’s be honest. Flashcards take a long time to make and they never stay in order. Now, I choose a few important terms and write side-notes that help me understand them better. For example, if one of my terms is “partisanship”, I will write down its definition and how it has changed over time. Choosing a few key terms focuses my attention on the most important topics of the unit.

Next, I start the “MY NOTES” section. My notes are personalized to best fit me. I can reflect on my old questions and responses. I can reflect on side-notes from class discussions. And I can reflect on additional resources my teacher provided during class, such as lecture notes. After flipping through my notes, I choose the topics that were most discussed in class and add them to the cheat sheet.

I end with “CONNECTIONS”. I draw mind maps to depict the branches of government or the functions of a cell. Arrows connect important people to dates. Pyramids reveal feudalism’s structure or Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Here, I can be creative and explore different visual methods to organize abstract concepts. Connecting relevant topics creates a unified whole that is easy to understand and remember.

The cheat sheet is now complete. I love using a cheat sheet because it allows me to dissect information and find deeper connections. I can reflect my thoughts onto paper and see how my mind works and what works best for it. It is ironic, though. Who would’ve thought Twitter would help me in school?

Deborah from California
High School Senior
Del Norte High School