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

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. As I pick up my pencil, a flurry of emotions tumble through my stomach. The test is handed to me. How did I get here again? Let’s take it back a few steps.

As soon as my teacher mentioned our upcoming exam, I whipped out my planner and wrote it down so I couldn’t miss it, which entailed a fancy font and a fun highlighter. I began to take mental note of how long I had until the test, and what other tests and assignments were also due soon. This way, I could begin making a study plan.

Back at home, I made a list of key points, sections, and handouts I wanted to study, as well as a formal study timeline. This usually involved a listing of each day until the test and what I would do each day based on how much time I had. Budgeting my time was crucial for me as a student because I am involved in so many extracurriculars that organizing and devoting study time is the difference between a great grade and a bad one.

When it comes time to actually study, my habits and practices vary by subject and lesson. One rule of thumb for myself is to always make studying interactive, whether that be through making tangible flashcards, drawing diagrams, turning facts into catchy jingles, or simply talking through material with friends. This helps me to connect information with experiences that make it truly more meaningful and easier to remember. Taking short breaks every once in a while to engage my mind in something creative—drawing, reading, or writing—solidifies my productivity and keeps me on track. I am fortunate enough to have absorbed so much studying knowledge so far, and am looking forward to learning even more in college and beyond.

And...go! As I glance over the test, I recognize the concepts and terminology I have been studying extensively over the past week. Any nervousness or exam anxiety built up inside of me fades away. I begin to bubble in my answers, confident in my study practices, preparation, and hard work.

Madeline from Illinois
High School Senior
Wheaton North High School