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

I landed on test preparation strategies that work for me once I shook off the idea that there is one "right" way to study. Rather, by focusing on the kind of thinker I am - abstract, messy, and visual - not only did I start to do much better on tests, but I regained a lot of academic confidence. The basis of my test preparation strategy is taking solid notes throughout the semester. My goal is to produce a personalized and summarized version of the class textbook through my notes, so that I can study with them. Once I know a test is coming up, I flashcard key terms - with nothing on the back. The important thing here is the specificity of each term. For example, instead of making a flashcard with the term 'photosynthesis' I break it down with terms like 'electron transport chain' and 'citric acid cycle'. Now that I have these flashcards to prompt me, I begin studying by using the Feynman method. Named after physicist Richard Feynman, the principle behind this technique is that you've only mastered something when you can explain the concept, however complicated, to a young child. So, after making a revision calendar to ensure I’m covering everything before the test, I go through each term. On a piece of paper I write down everything I know about the term, as if I was explaining it to someone else. During this step I will often talk out loud, or draw mind maps and diagrams. Here I’m also intentional about using active recall, by avoiding referring to my notes unless I’m absolutely stuck. If I need to look at my notes to explain something, that’s a signal to me that I need to spend more time understanding the concept. As a result of using this preparation method, the night before a test is always relaxed. Most importantly, the process of finding a study strategy that works for me showed me just how much intelligence is tied to hard work, and adopting this growth mindset has made college a lot more rewarding.

Meghna from Wisconsin
College Freshman
Duke University