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

It’s interesting how long the process of finding my favorite combination of test preparation practices took; understanding how and when to utilize preparation tools optimally honestly felt like an academic challenge itself. I’ve since realized that test prep combinations are fluid, that different subjects require different strategies, that different exam types require different approaches, that different people prefer different strategies. However, I believe my general approach of active studying, which involves three steps, is a method that can work well.
This first step involves gaining an understanding of the material. I usually do this by condensing all my lecture notes into a short study guide a few days to a week before the test. I enjoy doing this because I think this strategy is quick but effective; skimming my previous notes, worksheets, and past exams refreshes my mind on all the material I should know. Creating this study guide allows me to synthesize and reorganize information in a way that makes sense to me. Summarizing notes helpfully pinpoints which topics I am solid on and which topics I am weaker on too.
The next stage, then, is polishing these weaker areas. I try to utilize whatever resources are available, whether that includes reviewing specific assignments, looking through specific textbook sections, or researching videos to enhance understanding. After strengthening these gaps in my knowledge, I like to go back and synthesize this new knowledge on the study guide too. In this way, my study guide documents my learning process in addition to its traditional function as a notes reference.
The third step involves application of knowledge. I like to find practice exam-like questions online or make up my own test questions. In answering these questions, I consciously reason not only why the right answer is right but why the wrong answers are wrong. I find that this further solidifies more conceptual aspects and increases confidence for the exam.

Christabelle from California
College Freshman
UCLA