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

Throughout high school, I have been able to learn and use the best ways to study for tests and get the best scores. However, nothing would prepare me for the tests that I would take once I got to college. Since I’ve been in college, not only are the tests harder, but they have become much more complex, requiring me to develop extra tools to be successful. Before even studying for a test, the first thing I do is go to my professor’s office hours. It helps to ease the feeling of test anxiety by talking to the people who administer it. Sometimes it’s the TA’s who write the test, and so I talk to them, but the goal is to become familiar with all aspects of how the test will be set up. The main reason why I struggle on tests is not because I didn’t study hard enough, it was because I had so much test anxiety that I continuously second-guessed myself. I ask as many questions as I can. How many questions will there be? How long should I spend on each question? Is there a practice test? Once I know as much as I can about the test, I begin to study. I hate studying for long, continuous hours all at once, so I break it up over a long period of time, but not too long where I forget the material. I also avoid studying a day before a test because it creates even more stress for me. No matter how I need to study, I know I need a basic understanding of the material. The best way I determine if I know the material is by teaching it to others. I study with another person. One person talks about a certain concept, while the other person has the notes and can correct the other. After having a basic understanding, I get into the specifics of the test. If the test is conceptually or theoretically based, I usually read through my textbook. It usually has questions about concepts and theory, especially my STEM textbooks. If the test is about applying the material, I do as many practice problems as I can. These steps ease test anxiety and allow me to do the best that I know I can do.

Destiny from New Mexico
College Freshman
Columbia University