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

Flashcards, taking notes, study guides, YouTube videos, practice problems. The list of strategies for test preparation is nearly endless. Throughout high school, I experimented with many of these practices and eventually realized that I was approaching the art of preparing for tests in an overly concrete fashion. Instead of trying to pursue specific strategies, like re-reading the textbook and highlighting, I decided to tailor certain philosophies to fit my auditory and practice-heavy learning style.

After years of extensive research, I have found that my studying is maximized when I utilize two simple exam preparation philosophies: active recall and spaced repetition. Active recall is the idea that review is optimized when the brain has to recall information and stimulate memory. Spaced repetition is a test-taking strategy that relies on timing review to combat the effects of the forgetting curve—a curve that hypothesizes the decline of memory retention over time. The principles of active recall and spaced repetition are backed by countless research studies and, when combined, form a powerful, highly efficient system for test preparation.

While active recall and spaced repetition are useful principles of review, they are not specific applications. For me, the perfect application was making active recall questions in Google Sheets that require me to recall my knowledge on a subject and practicing them regularly to maximize the benefits from spaced repetition. I used other strategies like summarizing topics from memory, watching review videos with frequent pauses to recap what I learned, and testing my skills with practice problems. These practices worked for me because I created personalized methods of review from the proven strategies of active recall and spaced repetition.

Even though the content will get harder in college, I know that all of the strategies that I utilized in high school will allow me to perform at my maximum potential.

Anish from Illinois
High School Senior
James B. Conant High School