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

Ideally, my test preparation involves review from the start of the term or class. Each day after lecture I review the notes/handouts, following a longer review session during the weekend to cover material from the previous week. As the term progresses I try to actively connect previous material to what we are currently learning. In this way the new material builds upon what has been previously covered and the older material continues to stay fresh. When the class involves lots of terminology or formulas that need to be memorized, I’ve found plain memorization (such as through flashcards, etc) to be fairly ineffective not only in remembering the material, but also in understanding the applications (for example knowing when to use a formula for a particular problem or how to apply a certain term in context). Thus I prefer to memorize them by connecting the terms or formulas together and understand how they are used. That way I’m not just memorizing numbers and words, but the process behind each and how they relate together.
To achieve both of the above processes, I am a visual learner, so writing out main ideas and connecting them together in the form or a web, or using color-coding to identify key trends or concepts is most effective for me in regards to not only taking notes, but reviewing them later on in preparation for midterms or final exams. On a more practical level, getting enough sleep the night before and NOT cramming is another effective method I’ve learned through experience. Cramming would only sometimes help in the short term for the exam, but in terms of retaining information after the exam or class was over, cramming is detrimental, especially if taking classes later that would build or expand on the material of previous classes that I had crammed on. So my test preparation strategies expand beyond just the short term goal of the exam in question to the longer term goal of being able to retain and apply information after the class has finished.

Darren from California
College Junior
University of Oregon