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

Test Preparation for me starts before I begin to study. To keep my brain functioning at its highest level, I maintain a healthy diet, respect my emotional and mental health needs, and get plenty of exercise and sleep. This allows me to focus and think clearly. No amount of studying can make up for a lack of these things, and any studying I do is amplified in effectiveness because of these things.

Once I begin studying, I do not take any notes the first time through. I have found that taking notes right away hast at least 2 drawbacks: 1. it distracts from absorbing the material, as I am switching from "input mode" to "output mode". and 2. It sends subconscious signals to the brain that I am saving the information on paper, so it is not so important to save in the brain (there are some recent studies that demonstrate this). By not taking notes, I am able to delve fully into the material and my mental world where it is being received.

When I go over the material for the second time (I like to let some time pass, to encourage the information being stored in long term memory) I take notes by writing key questions that require an understanding of the important material to answer. In future study sessions, I try to answer all the questions from memory. Continually recalling the information from memory strengthens my connections to it more than seeing it on paper allows. Ideally, the space between study sessions should keep increasing, again to improve long term storage.

As I am studying I take a 5-minute break every 20 minutes to meditate. This keeps my mind clear and makes long study sessions much easier to handle. When I return to studying, I spend the first few minutes recalling what I've just studied. I also find ways to apply the information to new problems or to my personal life. Finally, before the test, I get plenty of sleep followed by a healthy breakfast and exercise to stimulate the mind and body. Rested, Nourished, and Alert, I'm ready to ace the test.

Steven from Pennsylvania
College Freshman
Penn State