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

Studying for tests, even on subjects that you feel confident about, is challenging for many reasons. The most significant hurdle I face when it comes to studying is time. Because I have worked since the age of 14 and also played competitive and high school soccer, I have found that the best way to assure my study periods are effective is to schedule each session with a study partner (or partners) whenever possible.

Schools and universities exist to bring together people with different life experiences, strengths, and weaknesses. We attend class on a set schedule, and by learning together and from each other, the shared pool of knowledge makes everyone stronger and smarter. Studying with classmates on a regular timetable, especially those who have aptitude in areas I might not be as sure about, boosts my confidence and eliminates the stress of not having a plan to study.

In addition, studying with others allows for the use of the Socratic Method of learning, where a series of questions are used to stimulate critical thinking about the subject being discussed. This works well when studying for tests on subjects like history, government, law, and philosophy. It also encourages “thinking on your feet,” which is important for tests that have an oral or presentation element.

Another positive outcome of studying with partners is the shared sense of accomplishment. Preparing with partners and having group success satisfies the competitor in us because together you have “defeated” the challenge of the test. It also provides a valuable lesson for future career pursuits when most of us will need to be part of a team on presentations, projects, and proposals.

Although learning is an individual pursuit—no one can populate your brain for you—the ability to regularly schedule study sessions with others, talk through the subject matter, and team up to face tests together has been the most successful method for me.

Samuel from California
High School Senior
Oak Ridge High School, El Dorado Hills