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

Test preparation is all about consistency. It is better to study a little bit over many days than to cram last minute. Instead of studying 6 hours before the night of the exam, study 20 minutes a day for the 3 weeks before the exam. Not only will you absorb the information better, but you'll be much more relaxed the day before the test and will be able to get plenty of sleep.

The way you study is also important. The best way to study by far is to do practice problems. Not only does this ensure that you engage with the content you are learning, but it also prepares you for questions to expect on the test. I did an SAT practice problem everyday for months, which allowed me to score a 1580 on my first try! I find practice problems and flash cards through sites like Quizlet and Mometrix.

There are also habits you can form while you study to improve concentration and memory retention. Chewing gum personally helps me concentrate and prevents me from fidgeting. Listening to music without lyrics allows me to concentrate on my work without becoming distracted, and it helps to play the same music right before your test to gauge your memory.

My first and favorite test preparation tactic is the utilization of memory spaces. It sounds strange and esoteric, but it works. As I absorb new information, I associate each piece of information with a familiar location. Facts about the mitochondria are stored in the front staircase of my school, Newton's laws are in the bedroom of my old house. This might sound nuts, but there have been psychological studies attesting to its effectiveness.

I hope these tips help other students like they helped me!

Nicholas from Massachusetts
College Freshman
Northeastern University