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

"How do you prepare?" This question was more difficult to answer than I anticipated. It is easy to say something like, “I prepare by studying”, but that does not suffice. In order to answer this question, I had to sit down and really dive deep into how I prepare and why I prepare the way I do. After sitting and pondering this question I realize that there is no one-way-fits-all approach to how I prepare. I prepare based on the type of test. When I say type of test I am referring to question type (multiple choice, short answer, etc.), density of the material (cumulative final exam vs quiz covering the last two weeks of class), and the nature of the material (math-based, science-based, etc.).
There are a few universal things I do to prepare. The first is that I begin preparing by not preparing at all. I clear my mind first. I normally start by meditating for about 10 minutes. This allows me to get in the right mental space. I then create an agenda for studying that details the time and length of time I will study each section and the time that I will take a break and eat. I do these two things first because I feel it is important to enter the “preparation” stage relaxed and prepared. There is a lot of stress that comes with preparing for a test, and by relaxing and preparing myself, a lot of that stress is mitigated. This allows me to peacefully focus. The other thing that is universal is the application portion of preparation that I incorporate. I take time after each section to create my own scenarios where I can apply the concept to everyday life. A lot of times concepts are presented in school in ways that are not common to the person reading the information. I take the concept and make it applicable, and this helps me, more than anything, fully understand the information. As for frequency, I try to start studying at least a week in advance to prevent cramming. These steps work for me when I prepare, and I hope they can work for someone else.

Jelani from New York
College Junior
Cornell University