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

I use memorization, test practice, and careful planning to study for tests. First, I learn the content, usually using studying tools such as Quizlet. I make my own Quizlet sets from my notes, ensuring I have all the relevant information instead of trusting a pre-made set from the web (and sneaking in extra content review as a bonus). Once my set is made, I use the “Learn” function to study. It uses a mixture of techniques, from multiple choice to short answer, to mix up studying—ensuring your brain actually knows the information and isn’t just holding it in short-term memory. Studies have shown that learning in a repetitive manner (e.g., only using flashcards) isn’t as effective as learning by switching unpredictably between tasks (e.g., using flashcards, then multiple choice, then short answer). By switching between question formats, constantly flipping the order of term and definition, and shuffling the terms, Quizlet helps me learn in a permanent way.

I then put that knowledge to a contextual test by using practice tests. Knowing a term and a definition in the abstract is one thing, but being able to apply it correctly in testing conditions is another. By stimulating testing conditions using a practice test, I not only prepare for the pressures of the test itself, but review content and make sure I can use it properly in context.

Finally, I prepare over a long stretch of time. That way, I can do a little bit a day, lighten my load, make it easier to study, and diffuse pre-test anxiety. Learning over a longer period of time helps store information in long-term memory, so in this sense, I learn in a much more holistic way, retaining the information rather than just keeping it in my short-term memory until the test is over.

Then I take the test! Thanks to my strategies, I learn better, ease my load (and my stress!), and retain information longer. I know the content and have simulated testing conditions, so I can approach any test with confidence.

Emily from Washington
High School Senior
Mount Vernon High School