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

My head nods off and my eyes feel droopy, but my blank note sheet is a slap in the face. Following along with the lecture, I make my first set of notes. Using pencil and the occasional colored pen to highlight key points, I prioritize processing concepts in my head over writing on paper in this initial stage. I try to ask questions and participate in discussions as much as possible. At home, I complete any assigned work.
If I feel I still don’t understand the topic, it’s time for an intervention. Lights brighten and my phone powers off as I gather lecture notes and PowerPoints. I might read the textbook or watch YouTube or read articles online, then practice additional problems. I take special note of confusing points that I can later ask my teacher or friends for help with. Learning the material is the most tedious step of the process, and I take frequent breaks to clear my mind (wash my face, mediate, grab a coffee, take a walk).
Once I understand, I employ various methods to cement my newfound knowledge. For certain subjects, flash cards and study groups and practice problems work fine. A bonus of study groups is that while teaching my friends, I understand the material even better. For other subjects, composing a song or dance might help to remember key points. Additionally, practice tests and considering real world applications allow the information to further sink in.
Finally, a few days before the exam, I make “pretty notes,” which compile my initial notes, particularly challenging problems or questions I suspect will be on the exam, and noteworthy information from the textbook, digital sources, and my teacher. Just before the exam, I’ll practice more problems to cement my knowledge, ascertain that I am prepared, and boost my confidence. If it is a cumulative, I will review previous tests and notes. On the day of the exam, I enter the room after a solid night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast. I skim through my pretty notes one last time. I am finally prepared.

Claire from New Jersey
High School Senior
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North