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

Sunlight filled the coffee shop as my friend drank her second cup of coffee and listened to me verbally walk through my chemistry notes. “Diffusion is the movement of molecules from a more concentrated area to a less concentrated area, resulting in equilibrium between the areas. Osmosis is diffusion but specific to water molecules.” Over the past week, I’d taken notes in class, annotated the reading - adding concepts from class, and taken the practice test. It was the morning of the test and the best thing for me to do was pace and talk through my concentrated notes to a captive audience - my decaffeinated friend.
Community college taught me how to study. I learned how to take notes in class and how to study outside of class. I learned to write down as much material as I could from memory then go back and memorize what I’d missed. As a science student, I learned the helpfulness of practice tests and just doing the problems.
Most importantly, I learned to talk through my notes with others. Not necessarily in a group study session, but to my parents over breakfast or my friends in a coffee shop. I process material verbally and love talking to people about what I’m learning. Talking through material allows me to explain what I can and catch gaps in my understanding. As I talk, I remember my teacher discussing it in class, reminding me of their explanation and added details.
Before talking through my notes, I like to have a master copy. I take notes in class, but I also annotate my textbooks, so I have multiple note sheets. If I’m on top of it, I organize and consolidate my notes before I talk through them, but consolidating as I talk also helps. In addition to organizing the information in my head and reviewing it, talking allows me to explain and almost re-teach the material. This makes me feel like I know it well, boosting my confidence about the test.
Lastly, research shows that physical carriage can affect mental performance, so my final strategy is to smile.

Britta from Vermont
College Junior
University of Massachusetts Amherst