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

For me, a student desiring a higher education, the anticipation of the work that will occupy the next few years of my life is growing exponentially. I have worked toward building solid physical and mental strength in preparation for the Virginia Military Institute, one example being taking difficult classes such as Advanced Placement courses and high-level mathematics. A crucial aspect of passing such classes is finding a study method that works best for me; in doing so, I have ran into many methods that help me greatly, but also an equal amount of methods that hinder my focus and retention of the material.

Before anything else and if given the time and opportunity, I will exercise before a study session. When exercising, endorphins are released that help reduce stress and boost dopamine, which allows for for increased attention spans that make multitasking less of a risk. A study done at the University of British Columbia also suggests that regular aerobic exercise could lead to an increase in the size of one's hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning. Going to a school where cadets are rigorously tested in their physical capabilities could be akin to hitting two birds with one stone.

Another test preparation method I use is studying in shorter sessions over a relatively longer period of time. I used to study for a couple hours at a time and found that not only was I not able to focus for the whole time, but I couldn't retain the information either. Instead, I now spend thirty to forty-five minutes studying, which helps me focus on the material and retain in easier. To add onto that, I find it more effective to make quizzes for the information then to simply reread the notes or flip through flashcards.

There is no correct way to study and each method works better or worse for different people. Some people don't study regardless because they find it boring or below them. I say they merely haven't found their method.

Jacob from Virginia
High School Senior
Deep Creek High School