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

I don't prep for tests.
Or at least, not in the traditional sense of the phrase. I don't load up on espresso the night before, face crammed into a textbook with my classmates quizzing me and a little monkey at the back of my brain screeching out dates and names and key phrases that the professor certainly probably is going to want to hear.
I used to do that, those all-nighters spent in the library. I'd slink home at dawn, stumbling into my room to sweat out the last hours of the night in anxiety-riddled dreams. But I would wake up a couple hours later to regret and the stale taste of caffeine at the back of my throat.
TLDR: It wasn't pretty.
I hit a pretty low point in college - I'm not going to lie. I was cramming like I always had in high school, but somehow it wasn't working anymore. It was almost like that type of systematic abuse of your body, mind and circadian rhythm over a long period actually wrought more stressors on your ability to function under high-pressure intellect-based circumstances. Go figure.
Needless to say, something had to change. And change it has. You see, I don't study for tests anymore. Rather, I study for life.
I read the textbook section before lecture, so that I'm familiar with the materials. I take notes during class, and ask questions, go on tangents. I go into office hours, and ask why XYZ was wrong on the homework. For all intents and purposes, I'm a good student.
The night before the test? I'm sleeping like a baby by 10pm. Because I know that I have spent the last few months studying constantly, building the connections needed to understand the test questions. It isn't how many facts I can shove into my brain that's important for my test preparation. It's how well I can cultivate a knowledge in that vein of information. It's not just preparing for a test, but the continuation of a systematic means of learning that is sustainable and applicable outside the classroom. After all there are no tests in real life.

amelia from Georgia
College Sophomore
the school of the art institute of Chicago