Write an essay where you tell us what test preparation practices work best for you and why.
During lecture, I take handwritten notes of not only main topics, but every finer detail I have time to include. If a professor offers printable notes online, I print them prior to class and annotate in the margins as they speak. In this way, I can capture as much detailed information as possible. Additionally, by handwriting my notes instead of typing them, I find their contents easier to remember after the initial lecture. I do not have a great memory, but each supplementary piece of sensory input I can associate with learning something new, the greater chance I have to retain it. In this case, note-taking involves many facets: the thought process of selecting which pieces of information to write down, the physical action of forming words with my pen, the sound of the teacher talking, and – most importantly – the unique appearance of the notes on the page. Formatting is fairly consistent in typed notes, but often when handwriting, you end up needing to make additional notes in a margin, draw a diagram, or cross things out. Those visual quirks can help specific note pages stand out in my memory, especially when I recall seeing a piece of important information next to a drawing or other mental landmark.
The week before a test, I go through all my notes and pick out everything relevant to the topic being tested. I create summary sheets from the most important bits being tested. The sheets focus extensively on details I’m not as familiar with, and only briefly list things I know well. I create one sheet per chapter, and keep sentences short so the sheet is uncluttered and easy to search visually. I underline the keyword of each relevant piece of information and put related facts underneath the key sentence, so each sub-topic is grouped with its main point. Broadly, I sort things in chronological order of when I learned them, but make some rearrangements as necessary for clarity. Once compiled, I study these sheets leading up to a test. It's earned me a 3.9 GPA so far.
Rachel from New York