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

As a rising sophomore at the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh, effective test preparation has always been a major factor in my personal construction of good study habits. In fact, I have been hired as a tutor for four classes— Biology 1 and 2 as well as Chemistry 1 and 2— for the upcoming school year. Working as a tutor in high school, I feel as if students’ questions center around one main idea: how should I study? Seeing as how study habits play such an essential role in academic life, it is concerning that many students still have no idea what study techniques work best for them.
In my opinion, the approach to reviewing begins with an understanding of how concepts within the subject are generally tested. For example, math based subjects like chemistry and physics are best studied for with practice problems. For these, I start reviewing by making a list of concepts our professor expects us to know. I then go in and mark in which subjects I feel less confident. Focusing on these areas, I do practice problems from the assigned textbook, online organizations, or previous worksheets and quizzes. It’s only after I have completed all of these that I take the provided practice exam so that I have an adequate representation for how I might perform.
Some classes, however, are not math based, but rely on memorization or understanding of particular details; these classes include biology, history, or language. For these, I have a different approach to preparation. I begin with making different flashcard sets (one for each chapter) with which I can memorize vocabulary introduced in class. In the couple weeks leading up to the exam I practice with these flashcards in between classes, on buses, or even in line at the dining hall. Then, I begin to rewrite all of my lecture notes in a separate notebook; this technique actually forces me to revisit material that may have been presented in a rushed manner and solidifies a previously shaky foundation for the exam.

Emily from New Jersey
College Sophomore
University of Pittsburgh