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

The Hebbian Learning Model states that neurons that fire together, wire together. This may seem simple, but it is the cornerstone of how we learn. If we want to remember new content, we have to put it in a metaphorical filing cabinet in our brains. These filing cabinets are the neural nets. The stronger your neural net, the easier it is to retain information. This is the key to test preparation. When preparing for a test, I first gather all the information I need to memorize and sort it into groups. There is overlap here but that is okay because that helps with the next stage. In each group, I break the information into tiers and create a hierarchy- what are the primary, secondary, and tertiary aspects of it broad to specific - I nest the information. Once I have the structure then I create sequences to tell a story. I organize the groups in a way that flows smoothly, one topic folding neatly to the next. Once I have this, it’s time to create a schematic. I take the complexities of the subject and create simplified mental icons for them- these are symbols and cartoons to jog the memory, this is like tabbed folders in our filing cabinet- as the concepts are translated into icons, they start to fit together like puzzle pieces. It is this systemic breakdown, assembling the whole puzzle-- one that I have now memorized like a story in a book-- that helps me retain complex information. I refine the schematic until it is as simple as can be until it comes together into an easily reproduced pattern. When it is time for the test, I don’t even read the first question until I have drawn that schematic. This usually takes 5-10 minutes, but it is well worth it. When I return to the test, my neural net is fired up, so I move through the questions without needing much reference. Afterward I check my work with to make sure I didn’t make any careless mistakes. It almost feels like cheating but teachers have only ever been impressed by this technique.

Jennifer from Texas
College Sophomore
Arts Institute of Dallas