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

The memory is a key facet to effective test taking. Therefore, the primary methods I use to prepare for tests is recall. The ability to recall information that is not in short-term memory shows that one truly knows the material.

A primary method I use to practice recalling information is a progressive summary of information I call a summary sheet. On my summary sheet I use the cornel note taking method style to put the topics on the left, and the key big picture information on the right. I continually add to this sheet either throughout the quarter, or all at once during the study period (method depends on the type of course).

When preparing for exams I review the summary sheet, and then I get a blank piece of paper and fill all the topics in on the left and leave the right-side blank. I wait 30min to and 1hr for my short-term memory to forget the information, then I begin to recall what was on my original summary sheet from memory. This method helps me to consolidate all the important material into my long-term memory. I know when my study is complete when I can recall my Summary sheet without any major errors.

Another method I use is active interrogation. I engage with material in a Socratic method that poises a lot of question. In the asking of the questions I format questions on one side of the paper, and answers on the other. As I study the material, I periodically fill in the Q&A sheet, and continually add questions as I go along.

When studying, I make sure I do not focus on one specific topic for too long. I switch through multiple different topics to interleave the material rather than blocking it. This allows me to make big picture connections and understand material on a deeper level.

Lastly, a key method I use in preparation for exams is to learn, forget, and relearn. When I space out my learning it increases the chances of long-term retention. On the second relearning of the material I gain better understanding of the material.

Justin from California
College Freshman
University of California Los Angeles