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

Twenty hours before the exam I sit in the 24-hour study rooms attempting to fill out a study guide that glares emptily at me. With empty terms dotting the page I can only consider how much better it would be if I had studied at all previously.

Freshman year of college I found myself in this situation for the first time. In high school my study skills were dismal; glancing over my notes and doing the assigned homework sufficed enough to maintain a 4.0. The beginning of university, however, put me in a different spot. I quickly discovered college did not just mean new material, but adapting my entire approach to test taking.

Test preparation now starts before the thought of an exam even hits; it begins in class. Typing every word the professor says is step one. After a lecture of transcribing, I then head to the library. On my computer I open notes from class and the slides the teacher presented. The textbook lay open on the table in front of me and I begin to take handwritten notes. In a graph-paper notebook I start with the bones of my lecture notes, bulk up with textbook clarifying details, and use slides to organize my work. Doing this after each class gives me clarity in content from the beginning of the semester.

In addition to taking notes with book content, I follow the steps of “snowballing”. After working through my notes I look over all information starting with day one of class. On lecture day two I review two days of notes; on day three I read back the notes from the three previous days. This ensures that I am able to continuously remind myself what I learned. By the time an exam approaches there is no new learning or cramming to be done. I can focus on any practice exams or review sheets, and rest confidently knowing that I can understand all I have been taught in class. While college studying began with me not knowing how to best prepare myself, I now have the tools to not only pass my exams, but master endless college content.

Victoria from Florida
College Junior
University of Florida