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

Preparing for a college exam can make your head pound with stress. Before tackling my many pages of notes from class, I begin my meditation practice. With a focused brain, I know I will be able to absorb the information I need. I start by sitting up straight in my chair and close my eyes. I focus on the way the air enters through my nose and down my throat, then as I exhale I feel the warmth of my breath exit my system. If I notice a shift in thought, I gently bring my focus back to my breathing. I am one with the air around me, the ground below me, and the heart within me. After ten minutes, I have found my focus and start on my studying.
Sources for notes can vary from assigned readings to lecture slides to the books assigned for the course. I am a visual learner and associate different types of notes with colors to keep me interested and organized. By different types of notes I mean “big idea” notes (blue), “formulas” (red), “vocabulary” (yellow), and “graphs or other visual aids” (green).
For studying vocabulary I use flashcards and ask my friends to test me until I can get all of the note cards correct. For formulas, I choose about three problems from class and write down each step, carefully. I run through the process several times before I understand how to use the formulas to generate answers. For graphs or visual aids, I will redraw them, then tape them to the wall above my desk so I am able to observe them every day until the exam. For big ideas, I call my mom, or find my friends to teach them what I learned from the course. I have found that teaching other people is the most effective studying technique for me and makes me more confident of the material.
By starting the studying process with meditation, I give my brain space to remember or relearn the course material calmly. I believe a relaxed brain is the key to doing well on exams, as it allows students to be patient with themselves, release unnecessary anxiety, and breathe.

Julia from Oregon
College Freshman
University of Oregon