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

My favorite test preparation techniques involve including my artistic side. The use of color coding and illustration are the ones I use most often. For instance, recently when I prepared for a Spanish exam, I color-coded all my vocabulary words and sentences. All nouns were blue, all verbs were red, adverbs were pink, adjectives were yellow... I don't know specifically why I retain information better when it is color-coded, but I have much better visual recall during an exam if I use color and shapes when preparing for exams. Another technique I use often is creating illustrations as I copy or transcribe my notes. I use this technique in English and in Science very frequently. As I read a book and take notes on its content, I find that drawings and illustrations related to the content work very well to help me retain the information and content. I recently read One Hundred Years and Solitude and made so many drawings of Macondo, the Colombian village where the books take place, and also made my own illustrations of many of the main characters in the book. I am also incredibly proud of my chemistry and biology notebooks, both of which are fully illustrated with drawings of reactions and animals. Mathematics and Statistics are natural fits for charts, graphs, and other data visualization techniques.
I have read that data visualization and illustration helps our brains to better understand the stories we are trying to retain and also helps us to sort through all the information and data in a way that is easier to remember. A good illustration or chart tells a story and our human brains are very adept at understanding stories. It is also such a pleasure to use color-coding and illustration, and my notes are really beautiful, which makes me want to study for longer times.

Nina from Massachusetts
High School Senior
Rising Tide Charter Public School